There might not have been much action at Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, but the lacklustre nature of the goalless draw reinforced a lot of preconceptions about this Manchester United team.
They struggle to impose themselves on big games, they are over reliant on Bruno Fernandes, and, most alarmingly, they are too nice.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was right to feel robbed by the penalty decision which went against them in the first-half, but not nearly as robbed as fans who witnessed the club’s fifth goalless draw against a ‘big six’ side this season.
Failing to score in such a big game is not an issue when an isolated occasion however it sounds alarm bells ringing when it becomes somewhat of a regular occurrence.
Again the United manager might cite the baffling referee decision as the moment which changed the game, but concern should also be raised by the player’s reaction to the incident.
Not one player protested the initial call and captain Harry Maguire hardly berated Stuart Attwell for still failing to award a penalty after he had watched it again on a pitch side monitor.
These players need to start standing up for themselves by restoring the siege mentality which saw them prove so many doubters wrong in the first place.
Without fans in the stadium United have lost their twelfth man, far more than a phenomena and genuinely a massive help in not only motivating the team but also putting pressure on officials when they are making decisions.
One exception to that is Fernandes.
The Portuguese midfielder so often leads by example but on on an off-day it is United’s tenacity and midfield creativity which ultimately pays the price.
The fact Fernandes needlessly started the Europa League dead-rubber against Real Sociedad on Thursday night might well have been a contributing factor to his limp display at Stamford Bridge, yet that wouldn’t have been an issue had someone else taken the reigns instead.
Another crucial moment came five minutes into the second-half when Fred was caught by a swipe from the frustrated Mason Mount.
Slow motion replays perhaps made the incident look more serious than it actually was, but the referee didn’t even consider an offence had taken place because Fred was so forgiving.
Many rival players would have made a lot more out of it and while neutrals might praise the Brazilian’s peacemaking approach it is hardly the attitude required to win league titles.
“It’s not about momentum or form,” former striker Dimitar Berbatov warned back in January. “It’s about how much you want it, how smart and cunning the players are, if necessary use some dirty tricks, do whatever it takes to win.
“Sometimes you need to be like this and, like Jose Mourinho said: ‘You need to be b******s to win trophies’. I don’t see enough of that from United in these important matches.”
While the squad have been happy to prove critics wrong by rising to second-place in the Premier League they will need another identify overhaul if they are really to recapture the arrogance required to go one step further.
After four years without any silverware the time for pleasantries has gone. If United want to be the best they will have to do so by any means necessary.