It was the team as much as Hughes that the crowd was brimming over with enthusiasm to applaud. They had welcomed the Premiership trophy eight days previously
and the FA Cup on Saturday; last night they could let their hair down over the Double.
Hughes probably preferred it that the limelight was spread over a wider area and, in financial terms, it is always a happy coincidence if your testimonial occurs in a successful year. It helped boost the crowd to 42,079, who contributed pounds 500,000.
All it required was a goal from the man of the evening, preferably the sort that had liberally speckled his United career of 151 goals in 404 appearances. And he tried. A spectacular attempt at a volley ended in head-hiding embarrassment and there were several attempts from long range that threatened but sailed wide.
Instead it was Celtic who took the eye, scoring through Simon Donnelly in the 48th and 55th minutes and Willie Falconer after 75. United had to be content with Dion Dublin's header.
Manchester United (4-4-2): Schmeichel; P Neville, Bruce, Keane, Blackmore; Giggs, Sharpe, McClair, Butt; Hughes, Dublin.
Celtic (4-4-2): Muggleton; Smith, McNally, Mowbray, Martin; Byrne, Collins, Falconer, Charnley; Donnelly, O'Neill.
Referee: R Dilkes (Mossley).
Peter Schmeichel, the United keeper, has signed a new four-year contract.