Manchester United put just about the final redeeming quality this season -- their away record -- to the test against a spirited but blunt Newcastle United at St James' Park but ran out comfortable 4-0 winners in the north east.
Without the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Mathieu Debuchy and Loïc Rémy, the home side always looked more likely to be more conducive to perspiration rather than inspiration, and that is all they ever really mustered. They got the ball forward quickly and hoped to capitalise on indecision, with Papiss Cissé glancing their best first half opportunity onto Anders Lindegaard's palms, but chances were rare.
What inspiration did occur came from the red United. Ashley Young was a probing presence down the right before injury ended his afternoon early. Adnan Januzaj replaced him, joining Shinji Kagawa and Juan Mata in a what proved a devastatingly fluid attack.
Gradually, and despite some valiant Cheick Tioté resistance in midfield, Manchester United began finding space between Newcastle's lines and began isolating the centre backs.
The breakthrough was inevitable and came from a Mata free kick so sweet it wouldn't have looked out of place on a dessert cart.
From there on in, it was always difficult to see Newcastle getting anything from the game and David Moyes' men began to quietly turn the screw. Javier Hernández struck the post as the first half drew to a close, but it was that man Mata who once again had the ball in the net, and it was far too easy. Breaking down the left exposing the hapless Massadio Haïdara, the Spaniard was able to essentially walk the ball into the net with a statuesque Newcastle defence looking on.
It was then just really a question of how many more Manchester United would help themselves to. Newcastle introduced Hatem Ben Arfa in search of some magic, but within minutes the deficit was three as Januzaj and Kagawa combined for Hernandez to add a sumptuous third.
In stoppage time it was more of the same, this time with Nani and Mata carving open the host's disinterested back line to lay on the fourth.
Though the Magpies once again produced a worryingly toothless display, this was a powerful performance from Manchester United and, with Bayern Munich looming, a reminder that there is no shortage of attacking quality in their ranks.
Newcastle starting lineup (4-4-2): Elliot, Santon, Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara, Anita, Gosling, Tiote, Gouffran (Ameobi 85), de Jong (Ben Arfa 61'), Cisse
Manchester United starting lineup (4-2-3-1): Lindegaard, Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Evra (Buttner 64'), Young (Januzaj 18'), Mata, Fletcher, Fellaini (Nani 70'), Kagawa, Chicharito
Goals: Mata ('39, 50'), Hernandez (64'), Januzaj ('90)