For David Moyes, it was a night that overflowed with indignities. He can be sure now what Everton's supporters make of him after all that caustic chanting from the away end and there must be something deeply troubling from his perspective that Everton have finally reminded themselves what it is like to win at Manchester United's ground. Moyes, remember, never managed it as Everton manager, just like he never won at Arsenal, Chelsea or Liverpool. What he could not achieve in 46 league games, over his 11 years, his successor, Roberto Martínez, has managed at the first attempt.
It leaves Moyes's current team 12 points behind Arsenal and, while a club with United's history will never give up, the bottom line is that something drastically has to change if they are to stand any chance. Everton, without Moyes, have improved. United, with him, have deteriorated. Bryan Oviedo's late, dramatic winner did not flatter Martínez's team and Everton could joyously reflect on their first victory at this stadium since August 1992, in the opening weeks of the inaugural Premier League season, when Peter Beardsley, Robert Warzycha and Mo Johnston scored in a 3-0 win.
By the end, the boisterous corner of Evertonians were crowing that his job was in danger. Other chants carried far more malice but Moyes's greater concern must be the erratic nature of the team he has inherited from Sir Alex Ferguson. They have their least number of points at this stage of the season – 22 from 14 games – since 2001-02. The champions that year? Arsenal.
Moyes could reflect on the moment when Wayne Rooney's deflected shot hit the post, or the two chances in succession in the second half when Tim Howard saved brilliantly from Patrice Evra and Danny Welbeck headed the rebound against the crossbar. Yet Everton, bar one 10-minute spell, always played with the greater collective fluency.
Kevin Mirallas also struck the woodwork, direct from a free-kick, as the tempo increased in the last 20 minutes and the substitute Gerard Deulofeu really ought to have put them ahead before Oviedo arrived at the far post to turn in Lukaku's scuffed attempt. An already grim night for United might have been even more harrowing if the referee, Martin Atkinson, had taken action against Marouane Fellaini for embedding his studs in the back of James McCarthy's leg.
Rooney's fifth booking of the season, for flicking his elbow into Phil Jagielka's chest, did not carry any real malice but it means he will be suspended for Saturday's game at home to Newcastle.
Robin van Persie will probably not be there either, having missed the last four games with his groin injury and with Moyes admitting he did not know when the Dutchman would be back. Martínez spoke afterwards about using Everton's poor record at Old Trafford as a form of motivation.
"Today was more than a football game for us," he said. "It was about getting rid of a mental block, knowing we have not won at this stadium for many, many years." It has been a long, wretched run, but they had been distinguished enough for their manager to reflect they could "take on anyone now, eye to eye".
A manager is entitled to be encouraged when he has a striker, Romelu Lukaku, who can dominate a centre-half of Nemanja Vidic's stature. Everton's attacking midfielders showed great determination to support Lukaku whereas Rooney was often isolated.
Ryan Giggs had little of the influence that he had exerted in his previous match against Bayer Leverkusen. Fellaini had plenty of the ball but rarely moved it quickly enough and Shinji Kagawa lasted only 57 minutes before being substituted. Antonio Valencia was moved from the wing to defence at the same time and that does not happen when a wide player is posing the opposition problems. Moyes needs much more from these players.
For Everton, Steven Pienaar and Mirallas were quick and bright on the wings. Ross Barkley was always on the move and, at the tip of their attack, Lukaku was a powerhouse. Old Trafford is simply not used to seeing Vidic coming off second-best like this. "I don't think you can expect any player in the world, one on one, to cope with the physicality of Romelu," Martínez said.
Rooney was often the solitary player in United's colours to carry any real attacking purpose but Jagielka played with great authority in the heart of defence. while the amount of time Oviedo and Seamus Coleman spent in the opposition half told its own story.
An Everton team from the Moyes era might never have had a left-back in the penalty area with four minutes left. Oviedo had anticipated the ball coming his way. His finish was sure and it left United reflecting on their fourth defeat of the season, dropping into ninth place and the overwhelming sense that the title might already be gone before we have even reached Christmas.
For Moyes, quite possibly the nadir of a difficult four months.