Manchester United began their English Premier League campaign with a performance as disjointed as their off-season.
Maybe the 3-1 home loss to Crystal Palace should not really have come as a surprise. After all, United ended a pandemic-prolonged 2019-20 season only 33 days ago with a demoralising loss to Sevilla in the Europa League semifinals.
Since then, high-profile midfielder Paul Pogba contracted coronavirus, captain Harry Maguire was convicted of assault in Greece (he has been granted a retrial) and young star Mason Greenwood was dropped by England — and made to train alone — for breaching Covid-19 rules.
To top it all off, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was without the majority of his squad for more than a week because of international commitments.
Still, how to explain such a listless display against an injury-hit Palace team?
"It was a performance you don't see very often from this group," Solskjaer said.
Pogba repeatedly gave the ball away. Maguire and fellow centre half Victor Lindelof were constantly twisted and turned.
Marcus Rashford was peripheral on the left wing. Greenwood played only the second half.
Meanwhile, Palace — battle-hardened after a more intense pre-season and opening-day win over Southampton last weekend — simply picked off United at an empty Old Trafford.
"We knew Manchester United did not play last week and that we had the mental advantage," Palace winger Andros Townsend said. "If anything, we could have won by more."
Townsend opened the scoring in the seventh minute and former United winger Wilfried Zaha netted twice in the final 16 minutes.
The only positive for United was a debut goal for off-season signing Donny van de Beek.
United should improve as the season progresses and perhaps more players are signed to add depth. Solskjaer will hope so.
On a day when 21 goals were scored in four games, there were also wins for Everton, Leeds and Arsenal, with James Rodriguez already making a big impact at Everton.
The Colombia playmaker scored his first goal in English football and set up the last of Dominic Calvert-Lewin's three goals as Everton overwhelmed 10-man West Bromwich Albion in a 5-2 win at Goodison Park.
Aside from his goal and assist, Rodriguez was involved in the game's key moment when he was shoved in the face by Kieran Gibbs soon after scoring in an action that earned the West Brom left back a straight red card in first-half stoppage time.
With two 4-3 scorelines so far, Leeds look set to be the entertainers of this season's Premier League. This time, Marcelo Bielsa's team was on the right side of a seven-goal thriller.
In a wild match between two promoted clubs, Leeds beat Fulham for their first win since returning to the top flight after a 16-year absence.
Helder Costa scored twice, either side of strikes by Mateusz Klich — from the penalty spot — and Patrick Bamford, to give Leeds a 4-1 cushion. Bobby Reid and Aleksandar Mitrovic, with his second of the game, ensured a nervy finale at Elland Road but Leeds hung on.
The two teams have conceded 14 goals between them in their opening two games.
In the other game, Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to score an 85th-minute winner as Arsenal beat West Ham 2-1 for a second straight victory.
The England under-21 striker had been on the field only eight minutes when he stretched to tap in a low cross from Dani Ceballos.