AND so the most pleasing sight of the week for Everton fans remains Tim Cahill jogging on a deserted training pitch.
Which says a lot about events at Goodison on Saturday – nothing as easy on the eye on show here.
But don't despair because Cahill is still back on his feet and putting pressure on that pesky injured one again.
Whether he would have made much difference to the outcome on Saturday is debatable but one thing is for certain.
Everton would have had a central midfielder for United to worry about, someone with the attacking presence to drag them kicking and screaming out of their comfort zone.
During a start that can be described as stuttering only when held up against their own standards, one fact has been generally overlooked when analysing United's season so far.
That is their defence is rock solid. The joint-meanest in the Premier League.
On Saturday one centre-back was comfortable enough with his workload to stroll upfield and score the winner. The other? Well, study the block that denied Victor Anichebe a late equaliser if you still think Rio Ferdinand can't defend.
He was troubled by an early Yakubu thrust but once he and Andrew Johnson had been snuffed out, the attacking outlets rapidly diminished.
And that's the problem when champions aren't troubled at their own end - even when they're not at their best they'll usually find a way to get the three points at the other.
The two Phils, Neville and Jagielka, did a fine job in crowding out the areas the likes of Scholes, Giggs and Tevez love to lurk in and they made their visitors look insipid in the final third.
But their wayward distribution meant United dominated the midfield in terms of ball-retention and possession, which rendered the contributions of Mikel Arteta and Leon Osman severely limited.
So it was a game crying out for the menace of a Cahill – or indeed a Thomas Gravesen – if ever there was one.
It was all so different less than five months earlier when United edged towards the title with a 4-2 victory at Goodison, which was, weirdly, the last time they scored more than one goal in a game.
But one of the main reasons the two teams produced such open, exciting fare was because Everton had a midfielder with the ability to construct rather than destruct.
His name – which should now be whispered carefully in the Goodison corridors of power – was Manuel Fernandes.
The prodigal Portuguese swept in a stunning second goal on that occasion to sting United into action quicker than you can say “one-way flight to Valencia please”.
Fernandes is deservedly long forgotten, but the need to heal Cahill's foot and Gravesen’s knee seems far greater now than it was then.
If the Australian or Dane had provided a similar threat as Fernandes did in April, then United's own lack of attacking options on Saturday might have brought a result so different to the one that has punctuated 13 of the 16 meetings between the sides at Goodison since the Premier League's inception.
The absence of perhaps the only player less welcome than Fernandes at Goodison (as if his name REALLY needs mentioning!) meant United would have genuinely struggled to find the way back they managed last time.
But enough of the 'what ifs?’
What Everton should be encouraged by is that they're not longing for their injured players to come back and spearhead some complete reversal of fortune.
The cold facts state that this win took United only one point ahead of their opponents, and to the top of the table for a brief period.
So it has to be remembered that, while Cahill is now up and running, so are his team-mates' hopes of sustaining a genuine challenge to penetrate that top four once more.