Sir Alex Ferguson is cast so often as a master of mind games, even if there is another young pretender over in the blue half of Manchester who came out on top at the end of last season.
The big question to come out of United's team selection at the weekend was not just about the 11 men picked to start the game at Southampton, but of the manager's public declaration that he had dropped his goalkeeper.
De Gea had flapped at a cross a week earlier at Fulham, and expected Southampton to target him so decided to hand Anders Lindegaard his first start of the season.
Despite conceding two, there was little the Dane could have done about either goal, so let down was he by full-backs Rafael and Evra to had the Saints two easy headers from which they capitalised.
But has Sir Alex Ferguson got this one right? Announcing publicly that he had dropped the Spaniard is no doubt a calculated gamble, but it is one which may backfire.
The manager lashed out at the FA for ruining his 'surprise' that Ashley Young was injured ahead of the trip to St Mary's, after they made it public when the England squad was announced, so you might have thought Ferguson would keep the reasons for De Gea's axeing under wraps.
Even if it had been largely suspect that De Gea was dropped, nobody would have been able to prove otherwise had Ferguson stated he was slightly under the weather and best suited to a place on the bench.
So right now, the manager has undermined De Gea, but it is likely part of a deliberate plan. The manager will be a little exasperated that one year on he is still making basic errors which led to Fulham's second goal a week ago, and will want to send a message that mistakes will not be tolerated.
He will want a reaction from the goalkeeper, and it is a test of his character to see how he responds. Last year he was nervy amid criticism, this year he has to show he is made of tougher stuff, and will cut out the errors.
It could be a touch of genius from the manager, but if he has misjudged the player's temperament, it could make him even more nervous and error-prone.
United fans rate Lindegaard, and have little problem with him stepping in, but then rate De Gea higher. But that doesn't mean the Dane should sit 'picking his nose' on the bench as he put it himself while his rival makes mistakes.
Even so, it was just one mistake, not a series of them, and dropping the goalkeeper after just one is a dangerous game. Perhaps Ferguson simply wants to nip the errors in the bud early, but if both 'keepers spend their time knowing one error will see them dropped in the next game it could raise standards, but it could be counter-productive.
Which it is, we will find out in the coming weeks.
What do you think of De Gea being dropped, and Ferguson's candour? Was it the right move or too harsh?
image: © James Boyes