Three points from Old Trafford as two goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic helped Man United to a 2-0 win over Southampton in Paul Pogba's first game back at the club.
1. Ibra maintains his superb start
The best things in life are supposed to be free and as Manchester United welcomed back their £89 million recruit, Paul Pogba, they recorded a first home win of the season courtesy of a man acquired without a transfer fee.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic's wages are such that he still represents a costly acquisition but on the day that the world's most expensive player made his "debut," the Swede showed a reluctance to let Pogba occupy the limelight. His brace meant Southampton, winners at Old Trafford in the last two seasons, were beaten 2-0 this time around.
United were comfortable and confident throughout. Jose Mourinho is a manager who likes control and his side exhibited it. Southampton had possession but rarely threatened. If that felt familiar, it is because that was United's lot last season. Yet these first two games have meant that the Louis van Gaal era, one of pointless passing and infrequent scoring, already feels firmly consigned to ancient history. Mourinho's team were more purposeful. In Ibrahimovic, they were more potent.
The Swede had scored on his Champions League, Serie A, La Liga, Ligue 1 and Premier League debuts. He can add his Old Trafford league debut to that list. He tends to make a striking first impression and the United faithful savoured his presence from start to finish. The opener was a moment to suggest that Wayne Rooney and he could form a promising partnership. They've not always been on the same wavelength so far but when the captain collected Antonio Valencia's pass near the corner flag, he looked for his fellow forward, swung in a cross and Ibrahimovic headed in his third goal in as many games.
His fourth followed after the interval. Jordy Clasie tripped former Saint Luke Shaw and Fraser Forster was beaten by Ibrahimovic's penalty. The drama ended there, which is how Jose Mourinho likes it. Two games into the league campaign and his side have won both by two goals. They are laying a marker down.
2. Busy Pogba makes a good first impression
When United re-signed Pogba, they termed it "Pogback." Friday night, then, was the "Pogbow," the first appearance of the £89m man for his new, and old, club. It was a full debut that had been a long time coming. Pogba's first game for United came in 2011 as a substitute in a League Cup win at Leeds. He had played 69 minutes of Premier League football before a four-year hiatus, in the form of a spell at Juventus that proved both productive and profitable for the serial Serie A winners.
Ander Herrera was demoted to make way for Pogba in deep midfield, where he was twinned with Marouane Fellaini -- not a partnership most would have envisaged until the past week -- in an alliance of giants. If the plan was to ease Pogba into the season -- his last match, the Euro 2016 final, was 40 days ago -- the record-breaker seemed reluctant to follow the script. He was involved, noticeable thanks to his bleach-blond hair, but busy throughout, a man intent on making an impression.
Pogba made a rather inauspicious start: within 30 seconds, his first contribution was a mis-kick. It showed that not everything he tried worked and perhaps he tried too hard at times, but there were indications of the range of his game. He is a shooting, heading, passing, tackling midfielder with physical force and a deft touch; put it all together and it explains why no one had as many touches or, indeed, why no one has ever cost as much. One surging run showcased his power and even when four Southampton players crowded him out, he was still able to pick out Anthony Martial with a pass.
It was notable how often he looked for Ibrahimovic, too; perhaps a footballing relationship is building. He was in the box along with the Swede, jumping for Rooney's cross, when the striker headed United into the lead. His own aerial power was apparent when he headed Juan Mata's corner just over the bar, prompting the Frenchman to thump the ground in frustration at being denied a debut goal. It was nevertheless a sign that a midfielder who scored 10 times last season could top that tally this year.
It will take more than an encouraging performance to justify such a fee -- or Mourinho's description of him as the world's best midfielder -- but it represented the right sort of start.
3. Hojbjerg shows signs of promise
A precocious midfielder, identified at an early age, signed from one of Europe's elite clubs and making his first start. This doesn't just describe Pogba but also Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, the closest thing Southampton have to a flagship summer acquisition of their own. Admittedly, the 21-year-old figured as a substitute against Watford last week but this was his first outing from the beginning and the former Bayern Munich man had to show his adaptability.
Oriol Romeu spend much of the first 11 minutes in seeming pain before limping off. It meant Hojbjerg switched positions to anchor the midfield on his full debut. It was his prowess as a holding midfielder that earned Pep Guardiola's admiration at Bayern Munich in 2013 and the Dane slipped into the deeper berth with unfussy calmness.
Holding midfield is a role that requires a player who can read the game: That is one of Hojbjerg's strengths. He played his part in a duel with Rooney, with each man fouling the other at times, but generally swept up in an area where United's flair players like to congregate and create. Yet with Ibrahimovic, they possess the option of bypassing the opposition's midfield altogether, and so it proved when they took the aerial route to score in a manner that rendered Hojbjerg redundant.
Southampton's other major addition had his attention focused on the other goal. Nathan Redmond struck on his debut, which was timely given that he's charged with replacing their 11-goal top scorer Sadio Mane after his move to Liverpool. Manager Claude Puel has noted how he converted Thierry Henry from a winger to a striker -- a move for which Arsene Wenger often receives the credit instead -- so if the omens for Redmond are good, the comparisons can be daunting.
Friday night's game represented a return to familiar duties for Redmond, who started on the right and still possesses a winger's skill set, as he showed when he scooted clear to cross. Dusan Tadic was agonisingly close to connecting with a header. But when he had the chance to shoot himself, he miscued horribly; he also conceded possession too often.
It highlighted the inconsistency that has been a feature of Redmond's brief career and might explain why he flitted in and out of the Norwich side last season. He could play a more pivotal part this year. Compared to last season, Southampton look to have a slender squad and a starting XI without much stardust. They have prospered when being written off before but while Hojbjerg could prove a fine buy, it will be harder to do so again.