Defensive mistakes cost City
Last-second defensive blunders are becoming the norm at Wembley. Arsenal, ever frustrating, got things started in the Carling Cup final in February.
Now it's Manchester City's turn.
The normally assured Vincent Kompany was the guilty party in the Community Shield, as his poor clearance allowed a sizzling Nani to net the winner in injury time. English soccer's traditional curtain raiser thus saw Manchester United come back to top Manchester City 3-2 in North London.
Did the glorified exhibition really mean much? To Wayne Rooney it did.
"No such thing as friendly against city," United's talisman tweeted before kickoff. "We want to win."
When the first half ended, one couldn't help but recall April's F.A. Cup semifinal between the teams at the same venue. United began much the stronger but couldn't make their territorial advantage count.
On Sunday, United's nifty passing and buildup play amounted to nothing early on, and City took advantage by grabbing a 2-0 lead. Cue the revival, inspired by Nani, the Portuguese winger who sparkled for most of 2010-11. New signing Ashley Young was another to impress for the Premier League champ, which probably deserved the win -- if attacking was the gauge.
City fans will feel better, though, knowing that neither of its big guns up front, Carlos Tevez and new 38 million pound signing Sergio Aguero, took part. Here are four takeaways:
De Gea is a worry
Even though United won, there's cause for concern, and it revolved around keeper David De Gea. It was always going to be difficult for United to replace stalwart Edwin van der Sar. Instead of splashing out on someone experienced, Red Devils boss Alex Ferguson spent a hefty 18 million pounds on the 20-year-old.
De Gea wasn't convincing in his first appearance on United's tour of the U.S. and struggled again Sunday. Could he have done more to prevent Joleon Lescott's headed opener in the 38th minute? Probably not, since David Silva's cross was inch perfect.
But he was clearly at fault on Edin Dzeko's low drive from 30 yards in first-half stoppage time, reacting slowly when he wasn't obstructed.
Ferguson probably won't drop De Gea when United meets West Bromwich Albion in its Premier League opener next weekend, yet he's already under pressure.
The new Neville?
Chris Smalling's future lies in the center of defense. Smalling and United teammate Phil Jones shone for England as central defensive partners at the under-21 European Championships this summer, and they might be the long-term replacements for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at Old Trafford.
But Smalling, patchy for United last season, proved he can play at right back. It gives Fergie something to ponder if one of the Da Silva twins don't work as Gary Neville's successor.
Smalling had no trouble defensively, and defense is the No. 1 priority for any member of the back four. Offensively he was a revelation.
Smalling sent Nani away with a nice ball in the first half and got United on the board by latching on to a Young free kick in the 52nd minute. He delivered two teasing crosses in the second half and began another threatening passage of play with a bit of trickery.
Another prospect, Tom Cleverley, added energy and contributed in the buildup to Nani's splendid equalizer. Cleverley entered for a disappointing Michael Carrick at halftime. In Carrick's defense, he likely wasn't 100 percent.
The nearly invisible man
Mr. Sulk, Mario Balotelli, had one of his most productive games of last season against United in April. He was nearly invisible Sunday.
The Italian did get noticed when clashing with Vidic in the first half, remonstrating with teammates and going down too easily after showboating led to nothing.
Manager Roberto Mancini replaced Balotelli with Gareth Barry in the 59th minute, probably due to Balotelli's ineffectiveness and Mancini's wanting to insert an extra midfielder with United then surging.
Balotelli's strike partner, Dzeko, wasn't that much better, despite his goal. Dzeko missed a free header seconds before Nani's winner. Silva (who else?) set up the chance.
The ref got it wrong
Derbies are difficult to officiate.
Phil Dowd did a commendable job in making sure matters didn't get out of hand, but he blew it on one important call. City right back Micah Richards deserved a red card, not yellow, for a studs-up challenge on Young in the 21st minute.
Call it the first of a host of controversial decisions to come this season.
London-based Ravi Ubha covers soccer and tennis for ESPN.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.