Danny Olsen made sure a difficult week for Manchester City became an embarrassing one as well. With manager Mark Hughes obliged to state publicly he would be staying amid talk of financial constraints and internal conflict he needed a victory in the first leg of this Uefa Cup qualifier to lighten his load.
Instead it was difficult viewing for the former Blackburn manager. Olsen scored the winner in the 16th minute, leaving City with an uphill task in Denmark in a fortnight.
The Danish side grew in confidence and blunted an inexperienced City line-up who for long periods looked like a team of strangers.
Hughes acknowledged as much. "Perhaps we were a little bit behind them in terms of sharpness and match fitness but that is no excuse for tonight," he said. "We needed to be dynamic and show more personality and drive the play."
Daniel Sturridge and Martin Petrov both hit the woodwork but Hughes's side were jeered off at the end. Midtjylland's winner followed a mistake by captain Richard Dunne. He lost possession to Jonas Borring and he showed a good first touch as the visitors quickly advanced. Borring released Mikkel Thygesen, who found Olsen and he rattled a shot into the corner.
Midtjylland were playing with the confidence of a side at the top of their league, albeit after only four games. Sturridge, though, almost equalised two minutes before the break after being set up by Felipe Caicedo but his effort came back off the underside of the bar.
City started the second half more brightly and began to dictate the pace. Petrov and Elano both went close in quick succession. Hughes replaced Caicedo with Valeri Bojinov, who was warmly greeted after recovering from a long-term injury.
Midtjylland, however, continued to look dangerous on the break with neither Dunne nor Tal Ben Haim looking that comfortable. City almost went 2-0 down in the 72nd minute after a wayward header from Dunne but Petrov cleared off the line.
However they hit back and almost equalised six minutes later only for Petrov's superb free-kick to come back off the bar.
City now face a difficult second leg in Denmark and Hughes made no secret of his desire for reinforcements. "We are short of a few players and are a bit light so we're still in the market for players," he said.
Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Corluka, Richards, Dunne, Ben-Haim; Elano (Etuhu, 69), Johnson, Gelson, Petrov; Caicedo (Bojinov, 63), Sturridge. Substitutes not used: Schmeichel, Ball, Onuoha, Ireland, Hamann.
FC Midtjylland (4-4-2) Heinze; Afriyie, Califf, Reid, Poulsen; Borring, Florescu, Thygesen, Olsen (Madsen, 73); Salami (Flinta, 84), Nworuh (Babatunde, 55). Substitutes not used: Raska, Furuseth Olsen, Marcic, Ipsa.
Referee: B Rafati (Germany).