David Moyes has suffered some indignities in his short time at Old Trafford but a Charlie Adam double whammy to give Stoke City a first Premier League victory over Manchester United must have been even harder to take than the penalty shoot-out shocker against Sunderland.
The defending champions collapsed to their eighth league defeat of the season against a team that had taken one point from their previous six games, while with one bound Mark Hughes and his side moved from the bottom three before kick-off to an unlikely 11th place at teatime.
"We were really unlucky," Moyes said, a trifle ungenerously, for hard-working Stoke were not undeserving of their win. "We lost to a free-kick from 30 yards that took a massive deflection and a world-class strike in the second half that came from nowhere."
Hughes agreed Adam's second goal was outstanding and argued his side had waited long enough for the break that led to his first. "If we had a little bit of luck today it's about time," the Stoke manager said. "We deserve that because we haven't had too much going for us in recent weeks."
Stoke quite reasonably saw both goals as difficult opportunities skilfully accepted and Moyes was on firmer ground in claiming nothing is going United's way at the moment. This was the first time Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie had started a game together, yet after an inconclusive and scoreless first half-hour the wretched luck that has been following Moyes around all season struck again.
First United went behind when Michael Carrick stuck out a knee to send Adam's harmless-looking free-kick past a stranded David de Gea, then Phil Jones needed a stretcher following a clash of heads with Jon Walters and the visitors had to reorganise their entire midfield.
The problem was that Jonny Evans had already departed with a hamstring injury only 10 minutes into the game, forcing Chris Smalling to move across to centre-half and Rafael to come on and take over at right-back.
When United lost a second centre-half shortly after the goal they had no more defensive substitutes, so Carrick dropped back to join Smalling and Moyes sent on Danny Welbeck to partner Van Persie up front, with Rooney switching to a deeper position in midfield. It was not what United's followers had been hoping to see, although, in fairness, Stoke had been dealing fairly well with the illustrious trio before the enforced rethink.
Apart from the goal, the first half was as uninspiring as might be expected on a cold and windy day at the Britannia Stadium, with only a half-chance for Rooney at one end and Peter Crouch at the other to relieve the tedium.
The second half was immediately better, with Van Persie equalising within a couple of minutes of the restart. Glenn Whelan made a mess of a clearance to surrender possession to Mata who, from just outside the area, threaded a pass through for Van Persie, in his usual confident fashion, to beat Asmir Begovic.
The heavens opened at that point, making conditions even more difficult, yet, against all expectations, a game began to break out. United remained level for five minutes, until Marko Arnautovic scuffed a goal attempt from a Walters knockdown, leaving Adam to bury the rebound most impressively, a rising shot from the edge of the area giving De Gea no chance.
Rooney was booked for a needless foul on Arnautovic before Walters departed injured after a caution for diving in on Smalling. Erik Pieters made a block to deny Welbeck from close range at one end, Arnautovic shot narrowly wide after being presented with the ball by Smalling at the other, then the Stoke substitute Oussama Assaidi volleyed over De Gea's bar, with a great chance to wrap up the result.
Moyes sent on Javier Hernández for Van Persie to make the last 10 minutes more interesting. With a whopping seven minutes of added time the Mexican was on the field for almost twice that long but still United could not score.
Begovic did well to tip a ferocious free-kick from Rooney on to his right hand upright, with Tom Cleverley skying a chance from the rebound into the travelling supporters behind the goal.
Somehow Stoke not only survived a stoppage-time siege, they even ended up with the last shot of the game through Crouch, before Adam cheekily took the mickey in the closing seconds by buying time with a 70-yard touch-finder that would not have looked out of place in the Six Nations.
Not even Fergie time, it would appear, can help Moyes at the moment.