After the maelstrom of emotion thrown up by one of the most remarkable results in the history of the Premier League began to dissipate, a bitter irony emerged. The final, brutal judgement on the failure of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal came against a club where an absolute faith in youth was thrillingly vindicated by a quite astounding 90 minutes.
On a day in which Arsenal's defence crumbled and their team self-destructed, it was a starting XI even younger than their own that inflicted the most troubling defeat of Wenger's career. Where Ashley Young and Wayne Rooney were rampant, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling assured, Andrei Arshavin and Johan Djourou were terrible, Carl Jenkinson and Francis Coquelin horribly exposed.
Arsenal were, of course, deprived of their two best midfielders having lost Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri to Barcelona and Manchester City, while a plethora of further players missed out due to injury or self-inflicted suspension.
But to ED's mind nothing can excuse the abject nature of the performance - and the disintegration of a defence that has about as much structural integrity as the Three Little Pigs' first abode - that resulted in an 8-2 defeat.
The simple truth is that while Manchester United's young team appear destined for a brilliantly bright future, and possibly the title, Arsenal's are digesting one of the darkest days in the club's modern history, and who knows what else to come in a season that is set to test the club's manager like no other before it.
Wenger, without question, is the club's greatest figure since Herbert Chapman, but this brutal defeat took Arsenal back beyond the Yorkshireman's transformative impact on the Gunners after arriving in 1925, back beyond the move to Highbury in 1913, back to the dark recesses of history, two centuries ago, before humans had achieved powered flight, back all the way to 1896 when they last conceded eight goals in a league game. Back all the way to a time when the club was still called Woolwich Arsenal.
In the years since an 8-0 loss to Loughborough, Arsenal have had horrible spells, have been mired in mediocrity. They have been in worse situations than the one they find themselves in now; between the years of 1953 to 1971 they did not win a solitary trophy. But this, without question, is Wenger's personal nadir.
The legend on Arsenal's new shirt, issued to commemorate the founding of the club that came ten years before that Loughborough defeat, reads 'Forwards'. But this is a team heading backwards, alarmingly quickly.
Of course, if you choose to assess the Wenger era on the basis of progress over time, ED would be quick to point out that he is the man who brought Arsenal into the 21st century: by eradicating a damaging drinking culture and transforming dietary attitudes and fitness regimes; by exploiting foreign markets to construct one of the most thrilling sides English football has seen; and by forging ahead with the construction of a new state-of-the-art training ground and the wonderful Emirates Stadium.
The club and its supporters can be indebted to the Frenchman for the fact that he has ensured Arsenal will be one of Europe's most stable and attractive clubs for years and years to come. But sound infrastructure and positive economic forecasts are not enough at the moment. Not when, in the here and now, Arsenal have contrived to put themselves in a situation where against their great rivals they are subjected to an abject humiliation of the kind that would have been unthinkable at the turn of the year.
Unthinkable then, but not now. Wenger's legacy is being scorched, and this is no blip. Since that defensive calamity handed Birmingham City the Carling Cup in February, Arsenal have won just five games in 19 all competitions. Two of those came against Udinese in the recent Champions League qualifier. It is clear to ED that the Gunners are in a state of alarming decline.
Such a feeling was reflected in the foreboding that surrounded the club prior to the match at Old Trafford. Some bookies were offering odds of 8/1 for an Arsenal win, while ED's thoughts immediately flicked to 2001 and a 6-1 defeat at the same ground when the line-ups were announced and it transpired that Bacary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen had been added to the massed ranks of the missing. For Jenkinson, Djourou and Traore read Grimandi, Luzhny and Stepanovs.
Never have Arsenal started a game under Wenger with such trepidation, such fear, and it is the direct consequence of a failed transfer strategy over the summer that has seen Arsenal relieved of their best players, and rely on fringe members due to the inability and reluctance of the board and Wenger to strengthen where required.
How have Arsenal found themselves in a situation when a player as raw as Jenkinson is asked to start a crucial Champions League qualifier away in Italy and then at Old Trafford in the space of a week? The teenager is an Arsenal fan, and ED could only sympathise as he was mercifully given an early bath after a traumatic afternoon on Sunday. It is not his fault, after all, that he has been promoted so horribly above his station. Emmanuel Eboue is a much maligned figure, but he would have been an asset had he not been sold.
The situation is replicated in other areas of the pitch. Wenger sold Gael Clichy to Manchester City and opted to place his faith in Kieran Gibbs, a player who spends as much time with the physio as he does with his team-mates. The result is Armand Traore starting at left-back. Denilson was sent away on loan, and one suspension and an injury means Emmanuel Frimpong is thrown into a game against Liverpool. His inexperience results in a red card, and then Francis Coquelin is asked to anchor the midfield against the reigning champions on his league debut. Nasri and Fabregas leave, and Arsenal's options are so bare that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain makes his debut from the bench, with Oguzhan Ozyakup sitting alongside him.
No one is arguing that some of the players who left should not have been sold - they are every bit of a part of Arsenal's recent failings as the current squad. But to not reinforce in time for the start of the season was ridiculous. Look at United, where deals for Ashley Young and Phil Jones were concluded weeks and weeks ago. Perhaps Gary Cahill, Yann M'Vila and others will arrive before Wednesday, but with one point from three games and this latest humiliation heaped upon a side already chronically lacking in composure and belief, the damage may already have been done.
Arsenal's disgrace on Sunday was a direct result of their lamentable work in the transfer market this summer, and the oppressively frugal and cautious approach the club and Wenger have taken to squad building in recent years. Now things must change.
"You know me well," Wenger said on Sunday night. "I think you should give me some time before you say I have got it completely wrong."
He is right. Such are the achievements of the man and the wonderful impact he has had on Arsenal as a club and English football as a whole, he deserves the chance to put things right. But put things right he must.
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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "We live in a cynical world these days and the media are so cut-throat. It is hard to understand at times. But the job he has done for 15 years now is phenomenal. He has introduced a philosophy of football and a way of playing and has brought in entertaining players and has sold fantastically well. I respect that." - Okay, so it's not the most explosive quote, but context is key, and this was Sir Alex Ferguson's first address to the BBC since lifting his boycott of the corporation. It wasn't quite as cosy as a Garth Crooks/Sven-Goran Eriksson interview that led Eamon Dunphy to famously declare "that's the first time I've seen sex between two men on the BBC", but it was certainly a big moment for the Match of the Day editors.
FOREIGN VIEW: "We should congratulate each other because we played well and may leave here happy. I scored my goals thanks to my team-mates. They help me and I help them in turn. That's how it is. We're a proper team and we'll win La Liga playing as such. The team is what matters most. I will try to help with goals, but collective efforts are more important." - Cristiano Ronaldo targets Barcelona's crown after scoring a hat-trick as Real Madrid hammered Real Zaragoza 6-0 away from home on their opening game of the season. Madrid had 39 shots.
COMING UP: You can watch video highlights of every single one of the weekend's Premier League matches right now, including our pick of the top five goals. Paul Parker delivers his verdict on events at Old Trafford at lunch, and after the latest instalment of Pitchside Europe, we will have live coverage of the Liga clash between Barcelona and Villarreal at Camp Nou at 20:00.