Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov both scored from the penalty spot as Manchester United beat Stoke to go level on points with Manchester City.
United were without 11 players, including Wayne Rooney, and gave a Premier League debut to third-choice keeper Ben Amos.
But Hernandez broke the deadlock after Jermaine Pennant fouled Park Ji-sung before Berbatov doubled the lead.
A foul by Jonathan Walters on Antonio Valencia was punished by the striker.
With Chelsea and Liverpool providing the opposition in the next two league games, it was vital United bounced back from their FA Cup exit at the weekend.
Man Utd 2-0 Stoke: Ferguson pleased with 'confident' display
And although this was far from a vintage performance, Sir Alex Ferguson's injury-hit side did enough to secure maximum points.
Stoke's record at Old Trafford, a venue where they have not won for 36 years, suggested this should have been a straightforward exercise for Ferguson's side.
Yet for long periods of the first half it was anything but as United, missing Rooney for the second successive game, appeared to suffer a hangover from the last-gasp defeat at Liverpool.
Fortunately for Ferguson's team, Stoke lacked any cutting edge in attack as Amos was forced into just one save as he started a top-flight game for United for the first time - David De Gea and Anders Lindegaard having been ruled out by illness and injury respectively.
Bizarrely, United had scored in the 27th minute in each of their last three meetings with Stoke.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since defeating Manchester United at Old Trafford in 1976, Stoke have now failed to win in 12 visits - losing 11 times.
Yet despite dominating possession, they failed to seriously test Thomas Sorensen in the opening half-hour, Paul Scholes's attempt from outside the area the closest they came to finding the net.
By then Jonathan Walters and Kenwyne Jones had attempted to test Amos from distance - both efforts flying wide of the target.
United had hardly threatened when they opened the scoring seven minutes before the interval after the move of the match.
Good work by Berbatov, starting for the first time since 4 January, and Scholes released Park inside the area, Pennant leaving referee Mike Jones with no choice but to point to the spot after lunging in on the South Korean.
Man Utd 2-0 Stoke: Pulis questions penalty decisions
Hernandez, who had not started since the 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn on 31 December, kept his composure to beat Thomas Sorensen from the spot before United thought they should have had a second penalty when Robert Huth appeared to handle Hernandez's cross.
This time Jones was not interested but the official did award another penalty when Walters fouled Valencia - the fourth spot-kick the Cheshire official has given in his last two games.
Sorensen guessed the right way but was still beaten as Berbatov drilled home his first goal of 2012 home in the 53rd minute.
United should have won by a more handsome margin with Berbatov guilty of spurning a fine chance following Valencia's cut-back in stoppage time.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson:
"We played a lot of good football and scored two penalties while we could have had two more.
"(Paul) Pogba did really well when he came on. You can't believe he's only 18-years-old. We're negotiating his contract at the moment, but it's a bit complicated because he's changed his agent.
"As for Ben Amos, he's got potential. He never flapped at anything."
Stoke manager Tony Pulis:
"It's always difficult coming here. We were playing one of the best teams - if not the best team - and we have got to keep the ball a little bit better and get up the pitch.
"Looking at them there (the penalties), they are very debatable but we are at Old Trafford."
Dimitar Berbatov produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the six-yard box which goes wide of the right-hand post.
Shot from just outside the penalty box by Ricardo Fuller misses to the left of the target.
Chris Smalling challenges Robert Huth unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
Andy Wilkinson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Evans. Michael Carrick takes the free kick.
Paul Pogba takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth.
Short corner taken by Antonio Valencia.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Paul Pogba by Ricardo Fuller. Paul Scholes restarts play with the free kick.
Direct free kick taken by Michael Carrick.
Booking Robert Huth goes into the book.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Robert Huth on Patrice Evra.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Paul Pogba by Dean Whitehead. Michael Carrick takes the direct free kick.
The ball is swung over by Antonio Valencia, Paul Pogba takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth. Short corner taken by Antonio Valencia from the right by-line.
Antonio Valencia decides to take a short corner.
Corner taken short by Ji-Sung Park.
Paul Pogba delivers the ball, clearance made by Andy Wilkinson. Outswinging corner taken by Antonio Valencia from the right by-line.
Substitution Ricardo Fuller on for Jonathan Walters.
Substitution Wilson Palacios leaves the field to be replaced by Rory Delap.
Ji-Sung Park takes a shot. Blocked by Andy Wilkinson.
Paul Scholes shoots direct from the free kick, Kenwyne Jones gets a block in.
Substitution (Man Utd) makes a substitution, with Paul Pogba coming on for Javier Hernandez.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Ryan Shawcross on Javier Hernandez.
Antonio Valencia takes a shot. Blocked by Ryan Shawcross.
Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Jermaine Pennant from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Michael Carrick.
Kenwyne Jones takes a shot. Blocked by Michael Carrick.
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Blocked by Jonathan Evans.
Chris Smalling gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jonathan Walters. Free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
Cameron Jerome takes a shot. Comfortable save by Ben Amos.
A cross is delivered by Jermaine Pennant.
Foul by Patrice Evra on Jermaine Pennant, free kick awarded. Jermaine Pennant delivers the ball from the free kick right-footed from right channel, clearance by Michael Carrick.
Short corner worked by Jermaine Pennant. Marc Wilson takes a shot. Jonathan Evans gets a block in.
Marc Wilson restarts play with the free kick.
Substitution Cameron Jerome comes on in place of Peter Crouch.
Robert Huth fouled by Dimitar Berbatov, the ref awards a free kick.
Jermaine Pennant gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Patrice Evra. Direct free kick taken by Patrice Evra.
Assist by Antonio Valencia.
52:23 Goal scored
Goal! - Dimitar Berbatov - Man Utd 2 - 0 Stoke Dimitar Berbatov scores a placed penalty. Man Utd 2-0 Stoke.
Booking Jonathan Walters is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.
Marc Wilson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park. Michael Carrick takes the free kick. Jonathan Walters challenges Antonio Valencia unfairly and gives away a Penalty.
Dimitar Berbatov takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth. Handball decision goes against Chris Smalling. Indirect free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
The game restarts for the second half.
45:00 +1:03 Half time
Half Time The half-time whistle blows.
Free kick taken by Robert Huth.
Booking Paul Scholes is given a yellow card.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Kenwyne Jones by Paul Scholes.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Antonio Valencia by Wilson Palacios. Direct free kick taken by Chris Smalling.
Paul Scholes challenges Jermaine Pennant unfairly and gives away a free kick. Jermaine Pennant takes the direct free kick. Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wilson Palacios by Javier Hernandez. Direct free kick taken by Robert Huth.
The assist for the goal came from Ji-Sung Park.
37:07 Goal scored
Goal! - Javier Hernandez - Man Utd 1 - 0 Stoke Penalty taken right-footed by Javier Hernandez and scored. Man Utd 1-0 Stoke.
Booking Andy Wilkinson goes into the referee's book.
Unfair challenge on Ji-Sung Park by Jermaine Pennant results in a Penalty.
Antonio Valencia delivers the ball.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Jermaine Pennant on Ji-Sung Park. Ben Amos takes the free kick.
Michael Carrick has an effort at goal from close range which goes wide right of the goal.
Effort from the edge of the penalty box by Kenwyne Jones goes wide of the right-hand upright.
Corner taken short by Ji-Sung Park.
Peter Crouch gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Paul Scholes. Paul Scholes takes the direct free kick.
Peter Crouch is adjudged to have handled the ball. Michael Carrick restarts play with the free kick.
Michael Carrick delivers the ball, Ryan Shawcross makes a clearance.
Paul Scholes takes a shot. Blocked by Robert Huth. Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Antonio Valencia.
Shot from outside the penalty box by Michael Carrick goes wide right of the goal. Corner taken short by Antonio Valencia.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Wilson Palacios by Paul Scholes. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Shawcross.
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Thomas Sorensen.
The ball is delivered by Antonio Valencia, Robert Huth manages to make a clearance.
Centre by Chris Smalling.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Peter Crouch on Rio Ferdinand. Ben Amos takes the direct free kick.
The ball is delivered by Jonathan Walters, Chris Smalling gets a block in.
Ji-Sung Park fouled by Kenwyne Jones, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Paul Scholes.
Antonio Valencia decides to take a short corner.
Kenwyne Jones produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the target.
Michael Carrick takes a shot. Ryan Shawcross gets a block in.
Long distance shot from Jonathan Walters misses to the left of the net.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Antonio Valencia on Marc Wilson. Thomas Sorensen takes the direct free kick.
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