The ghosts of United's recent past proved more potent than the pallid shadows of their present on the day Neil Warnock came back to haunt Bramall Lane.
The Blades' previous manager watched his new side follow the script by beating his old one on an afternoon when Sheffield fans showed far more warmth toward him than to current manager, Bryan Robson.
"Even the three or four who always gave me stick were quiet today," noted Warnock after being given a standing ovation before the game and shaking hands with everyone from team to programme-sellers after it.
Disgruntled fans demonstrated their feelings after the game, calling for Robson to resign something he has no intention of doing.
"It's going to take time to change things around," he said. "I know the board will give me that patience."
Robson has not changed much: in terms of manpower, nine of his starting side were inherited from Warnock the full-backs, Phil Bardsley and Gary Naysmith, were the exceptions.
Palace were unmistakably the Warnock side; organised, solid and hard-working, with a heavy investment in youth. One of Palace's more experienced players, Jamie Scowcroft, got the game's only goal, but everywhere else the knack of getting mature performances out of young men was in evidence.
Sean Scannell, a 17-year-old left-winger of exciting enterprise and confidence was involved on Saturday, whilst other reasons to be cheerful for the future include Tom Soares, at 21, and Ben Watson, a year older.
United's midfield was anonymous and, without the injured James Beattie, there was no cutting edge up front. Rob Hulse missed a sitter which, according to Robson, made it "seven or eight different players who have missed really good chances.
"We're just not getting the breaks at the moment."
Goal: Scowcroft (38) 0-1.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Bardsley, Lucketti, Kilgallon, Naysmith; Gillespie (Sharp, 53) Montgomery, Tonge, Armstrong (Hendrie, 62); Hulse, Stead. Substitutes not used: Bromby, Carney, Bennett (gk).
Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Butterfield, Lawrence, Hudson, Hill; Soares (Ifill, 91) Watson, Derry, Scannell (Hills, 77); Morrison (Fletcher, 72), Scowcroft. Substitutes not used: Freedman, Fonte.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).
Booked: Sheffield United Hendrie; Crystal Palace Derry, Soares, Butterfield.
Man of the match: Scowcroft.
Attendance: 23,982.Reuse content