West Brom 1 Manchester United 2: Ashley saves De Gea after another goalie gaffeSome players put on the shirt of Manchester United and seem to grow an inch or two overnight; others wear it and shrink.
Ashley Young is, without doubt, a Manchester United player.
Whether the same will be said of new goalkeeper David de Gea remains to be seen. His shirt is not red, but his face surely was after another mistake that could have cost his team victory.
On the rise: Ashley Young is held aloft by Wayne Rooney after his winner
The Community Shield is a largely meaningless bauble and De Gea's error in that last week would have been quickly forgotten.
Mistakes with three points on the line, however, remain fresher in the memory, and the record books and the Spaniard's team-mates will not be able to outscore his frailties for ever.
As it was, it took a twice-deflected Young cross with nine minutes remaining to make United only the third team to exit the first weekend of the Premier League season with a 100 per cent record.
They had been coasting until De Gea's unfortunate intervention, but such an obvious flaw plays havoc with the confidence of a side and for long periods in the second half United lost their way.
There was so much that was good about them in the opening 35 minutes, so much promise, so much excellence, that the widespread predictions of another title on its way to Old Trafford quickly looked like the wisdom of sages, rather than the standard shot in the dark.
To the rescue: Youssouf Mulumbu (right) tries to chase down Ashley Young
Young, in particular, was outstanding on the left while Wayne Rooney's thought processes remain in advance of just about any footballer in Britain.
And then De Gea got involved and United returned to earth.
The old line about a chain being as strong as its weakest link has rarely appeared more apt.
Flap and pickle: De Gea misses a cross under pressure from Long and Olsson
Apart from a fine one-handed save from Paul Scharner in the first half, little that De Gea did convinced.
He got an early strong-arm welcome to the Premier League, which would have almost certainly been given as a foul in La Liga, from West Bromwich centre half Jonas Olsson.
Howler: De Gea left clutching fresh air as Shane Long's (not pictured) shot bobbles into the net
Whether this was the root of his unease it is hard to say but certainly, by half-time, De Gea looked very uncomfortable with his surroundings and had been responsible for Albion's unexpected equaliser.
It came when new signing Shane Long cut inside on the left to unleash a very tame shot.
Early faller: United's £18m goalkeeper David de Gea let a pot-shot from Manchester City's Edin Dzeko slip past him (above) at Wembley eight days ago. On Sunday he handed West Brom's Shane Long a debut goal (below). Can anyone hear a hair-dryer?
In muddy conditions there have been back-passes struck with greater venom but, mystifyingly, the manoeuvre seemed to startle De Gea, who was late down and unprepared, the ball skipping past his outstretched arms.
His team-mates looked on, stunned, while the goalkeeper began cursing and castigating himself as the home fans roared.
His downward spiral continued at a lick from there.
Debut goal: Long's bobbler was too cunning for De Gea
De Gea failed to come for a high loose ball deep in the penalty area, provoking scornful glances from his entire defence, but most particularly the young Fabio, who was forced into a hasty rearguard action.
A minute before half-time, De Gea was almost caught out by a cross-shot from Somen Tchoyi, forcing him to back-pedal hastily and tip the ball clear.
Credit is due to United's midfield, who kept West Bromwich at arm's length as the defence fell like dominoes.
Nemanja Vidic will miss two weeks with a calf injury, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, and Rio Ferdinand six with a hamstring pull.
Arms race: Tom Cleverley is sent sprawling by Shane Long
In addition to the absent Patrice Evra and Rafael, now missing for 10 weeks and in need of an operation after dislocating a shoulder, this gave United's defence no little fragility.
Certainly the home side could, and should, have put greater pressure on De Gea after half-time judging by the chaotic way he handled the odd high cross into the area.
Any manager watching this at home will no longer need a big book of tactical masterstrokes to work out one possible way of getting at United this season.
The good news - and there remains plenty of it - is that they now have so many new ways of causing problems that the opposition will be too busy putting out fires of their own to focus on putting one under De Gea.
All's Wel: Danny Welbeck is sent flying by Youssouf Mulumbu (centre) as James Morrison looks on
The visitors came cruising out of their own half, Young laid a pass into the path of his England team-mate, who calmly stroked home from 20 yards.
Struggling with a calf injury since the opening minutes, Vidic eventually gave way just after half-time.
With Patrice Evra sidelined by a knee problem and Rafael ruled out for 10 weeks after dislocating his shoulder in training, what had appeared such a rosy picture for United had changed completely in a matter of days.
The bad with the good: Young (left) is cautioned by referee Michael Jones after his foul on Long
It is no revelation to state that Rooney looks a class above, as usual, but the most striking performance in a United shirt was that of Young.
Deployed on the left, he was a persistent threat, helped set up the first goal for Rooney and laid claim to the second, until replays revealed its progress through the West Bromwich penalty area was as if launched by a pinball machine.
Danger can come from any direction when United are on the attack, but one feels the combination of Young and Rooney will be a familiar route to goal.
Ooooh, Young man: United's new boy celebrates his deflected winner
It certainly was here, the pair combining most effectively after 13 minutes when Fabio fed Rooney, who flicked a sublime backheel out to Young on the flank.
He returned the favour and Rooney teed the ball up perfectly before striking a shot across the body of Ben Foster, leaving the Albion goalkeeper no chance.
And it looked as if that would be the tale of the game, promising United undone by goalkeeper error, until Young once again cut inside on the left to conjure a familiar denouement.
De relief after de gaffe: De Gea triumphant despite his faux pas
His cross was dangerous either way, but it was made positively deadly having struck first Gabriel Tamas and then Steven Reid to leave Foster no chance at his far post.
The warmth of the response in the away end suggests the faithful have acknowledged this new star in their midst instantly, and it is rare to see a young player look so entirely at home in the colours of his new club.
De Gea can only look on enviously at the moment.
Maybe one day that will be him, too, but not for a while yet. United do not have enough weak points that opposing managers can afford to ignore the trials of the young man in goal.
For the next few matches, at least, he is going to live in interesting times.
Great start: Wayne Rooney fires United into an early lead at The Hawthorns