Swansea had been tipped to give David Moyes and United an uncomfortable start to life after Sir Alex Ferguson at the Liberty Stadium. But two goals for the brilliant Robin van Persie and a brace for Danny Welbeck gave the visitors an emphatic 4-1 victory in south Wales.
The only consolation for the Swans was Wilfried Bony finding the net on his Premier League debut but, after an encouraging pre-season which had included a comfortable Europa League win over Malmo, this was something of a rude awakening.
The Welsh club must now prepare for the first leg of their Europa League play-off round tie against Romania's Petrolul Ploiesti, and Sunday's testing league trip to face Tottenham.
But Laudrup will remain typically calm, and was quick to point out that it is results against the other 12 teams in what he considers to be the second tier of the top-flight, that will ultimately dictate the success of Swansea's season.
"The big players play for the big teams. That is why there is such a big difference sometimes," he said. "They just need a couple of chances and they score. The two goals from Van Persie were world class.
"It happened to us last season against Tottenham here. We were in the game, we dominated and suddenly two interventions from Gareth Bale and you are 2-0 down. You try to come back but it is difficult. They have so many quality players.
"After a great pre-season, not conceding any goals, and we have conceded four in one game, even if it is against Manchester United. It is not what you want. But Manchester United and us are playing for two different things. It is not against teams like that we have to see where we are.
"On Thursday we have to prepare for a completely different competition. It is the first leg of two against the Romanian side in the Europa League and in that game it is very important for us not to concede goals."