Size apart it may be a trophy of little consequence, but the message Manchester United delivered by hoisting the Community Shield after making Chelsea look "ordinary" can count for plenty once the season proper begins this weekend, Ryan Giggs believes.
As he begins his 20th campaign at Old Trafford, Giggs regards United's 3-1 victory over Chelsea as a potentially telling marker against the defending champions. United have to wait until Monday for their first league game, at home to Newcastle, two days after Chelsea host West Bromwich.
"We controlled the game," he said yesterday. "Chelsea are a good team and at times we made them look ordinary. We are confident and our pre-season has gone well. We know that the real business starts against Newcastle and if we play like that we have a chance."
Another of the side's elder statesmen is relishing the challenge of competing for places with the next generation. "Before we left for the Chelsea game," said Edwin van der Sar, "the manager gave a little team talk, and said, 'I am glad to be able to still be doing this, to work with young guys which keeps me motivated', and it is the same for the players – we all feel it is a nice place to be at United."
Van der Sar, who celebrates his 40th birthday in October, missed chunks of last season through injury and a serious illness suffered by his wife, Anne-Marie. She has now made a full recovery from a suspected brain haemorrhage. "Last season was hard," he said. "I had two injuries and then there was my wife's illness. She is feeling good again and enjoying life at the moment."