United's approach against a defensive minded West Bromwich side was exactly the right one.... keep the ball, look to draw them out, stay patient and wait for an opportunity.
This was a game plan that would have been executed perfectly had it not been for a heroic performance from the opposition goalkeeper and the ultimate smash and grab raid.
It was a lack of a finishing touch in front of goal that once again hurt United- an all too common occurrence in recent weeks, and manager Louis van Gaal was left concerned by his side's recent attacking paucity.
The Reds had pushed into a wonderful position after April's win over City but defeats against Chelsea, Everton and West Brom have now left the door ajar for the chasing Champions League pack.
Robin van Persie's return failed to end the goal drought, as he saw a second half penalty saved by the outstanding Boaz Myhill after Jonas Olsson deflected in a Chris Brunt free-kick for a shock win.
"Normally Robin shoots the penalties very good but it was also a good save from the keeper- you have to give the credit also to the goalkeeper but it was our biggest chance as it was harder for them to defend in that moment.
"It's also a concern now (a lack of goals) because it's not a coincidence and in spite of the way we have played against Chelsea, Everton and now against West Bromwich, we have created a lot of chances and still we don't score.
"You can say as a manager that we are not unlucky in every match, it's also that you have to finish these chances.
"We have lost three times in a row, this has not happened to me very much so it's also in the hands of my players.
"Now our position is less secure."
The Baggies defensive minded approach mirrored that of Chelsea and, to a lesser extent, Everton, but, despite having only 20% of the ball, it was enough for a surprise win.
"I know what is happening" LVG added
"In the defence, West Bromwich shall, as I think you say in England, park the bus and they have done that"
"Their goalkeeper was fantastic I think and they did not give us sufficient space to score the goals as we have created enough chances to score but still from a difficult situation because a lot of bodies are in front of you, behind the ball.
"Their goal was not even a chance- it was a free-kick that was off target and deflected also.
"It is very unlucky when you see what we have created and how we missed the chances and how they scored.
"It is unbelievable but that is also the beauty of football."