Man Utd miss chance to break spell
Sir Alex Ferguson loves delivering a psychological blow - and he wore the look of a man who knew Manchester United had missed an opportunity to land a big one on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Ferguson may have settled for a point before kick-off, but his post-match assessment drove at the heart of the disappointment he was feeling.
How he would have relished being the man to end Chelsea's incredible unbeaten home record in the Premier League stretching back to 2004, and it will gnaw away him that his team failed to afford him that opportunity.
United led and dominated, as they did at Liverpool, before uncharacteristically retreating into their shell and allowing Chelsea to recover and earn a deserved point which could easily have been turned into three.
Chelsea will take more from this match because they ended in the ascendancy and maintained that proud record of 85 unbeaten league games stretching back to 2004.
Ferguson's inquest hit all the right spots - questioning United's failure to go for the jugular after Ji-Sung Park gave them a deserved lead, losing tempo and running out of energy.
All in all most un-United like. And something that must be corrected.
United will improve hugely once Cristiano Ronaldo is fully restored and Dimitar Berbatov is made to understand that an early impact followed by a disappearing act is not actually the Old Trafford way.
Ferguson opted for caution by keeping Ronaldo on the bench, and it worked early on as the energy of Park and Owen Hargreaves, coupled with Wayne Rooney's industry and Berbatov's languid talent kept Chelsea occupied.
But, as at Liverpool, the effect quickly wore off and Chelsea dominated for most of the last hour.
Ferguson has noted the vital signs, however, and we can be certain he will be attempting to put it right swiftly.
The game itself fizzled out after a thrilling start, but both sides showed enough to confirm that it will be normal service in the title race this season.
Chelsea have an indestructible quality at Stamford Bridge, and there was an inevitability about Salomon Kalou's late equaliser.
But as an advert for the best in the Premier League - and the record shows these two sides are the best - it was a scrappy affair after an eventful opening.
In fact, both Ferguson and Chelsea counterpart Luiz Felipe Scolari are probably glad to get it out of the way without any major damage being inflicted in terms of points.
The disjointed nature of the game was not helped by a pre-match injury to Chelsea's Deco and first-half departures for Ricardo Carvalho and Manchester United keeper Edwin van der Sar.
It is worth saying Van der Sar was on long enough to suggest Ferguson may be considering Ben Foster's claims seriously once he has a spell of sustained fitness. The Dutchman has not been impressive this season and looks like Father Time might be tapping him on the shoulder.
Referee Mike Riley did not endear himself to Ferguson by booking seven United players, and it was hard not to have a measure of sympathy for the Scot.
When I first started watching football, eight bookings would have constituted a bloodbath of epic proportions coupled with players from both sides re-enacting the final days of the Roman Empire.
Here there were a few naughty tackles and the odd nasty word, but eight bookings? Times have changed and not necessarily for the better.
As a signpost to the rest of the season, we learned little that we did not already know, other than the fact United need to regain that ruthless edge to their pursuit of victory, which history suggests they will.
Little sub-plots are developing nicely elsewhere, with Arsenal once again playing the beautiful game at Bolton and Liverpool having their first slip at home to Stoke.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez will be particularly frustrated that their morale-boosting win against Manchester United has not been followed up with what should have been a routine victory.
They had plenty of chances to sink Stoke, but he will hope this is not a repeat of last season when a superb start was followed by damaging goalless draws against Portsmouth and Birmingham and a subsquent loss of confidence.
What were your thoughts on the Stamford Bridge action? And what other early indicators have we had from the start to the Premier League season?