Plunging a 20-year-old 'keeper into the job of establishing himself as United's number one to replace a European Cup winning veteran is no new thing.
David de Gea is set to meet his new United colleagues for the first time in Seattle this weekend with a ringing endorsement from Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Reds boss believes he called it wrong almost a decade ago when he scouted Chelsea's Petr Cech as a teenager in France.
“I went to see Cech when he was at Rennes," said Ferguson. "He was 19 years of age at the time and I said to myself, 'Yeah, he's too young', but Chelsea bought him not long afterwards for £7 million or something and he's never been out of the team.”
So it is a case of once bitten twice shy for Fergie when de Gea precocious talent was identified as the best around to replace the retired Edwin Van der Sar
“Youth, age, it doesn't matter when you have the ability of a goalkeeper like Cech or, we know, de Gea has. He's young, he's quick and he has fantastic presence and composure. His use of the ball is outstanding.
“All of these plus points are things that don't go away. He's got these natural things."
If de Gea kicks off the competitive job of filling Van der Sar's gloves against City in the Community Shield next month he will be three months short of his 21st birthday.
That will be seven months older than Gary Bailey was when he was thrust into the Old Trafford spotlight in 1978.
Thirty three years ago United manager Dave Sexton was struggling to replace United's long established goalkeeper Alex Stepney when he finished at the Reds in the summer of '78 to go over to America after 546 games at the club.
Irishman Paddy Roche had a bash at making the job his but couldn't shake off a mistake-riddled tag attached to him.
After shipping five goals at Birmingham City in November '78 Sexton acted.
Gordon McQueen was United's central defender takes up the story and explains why de Gea won't have it as tough as Bailey's introduction.
“Dave Sexton went to sign Jim Blyth from Coventry City but he failed his medical and everything then happened so quickly,” recalls Gordon.
“The manager said he was throwing Gary in for his debut against Ipswich Town at Old Trafford.
“We hadn't played much with Gary at all because he hadn't been at the club for long. I think he'd had a few youth matches but hardly any, if any reserve games.
“We went out in front of the Stretford End before the game for 10 minutes and had a few practices on crosses and that was it. It wasn't easy but Gary had a good debut.
“The key to it all was his character. He was a strong character and had a great amount of belief in his own ability. He was very confident.
“That helped so much when he had a few bad games and made some mistakes. I think he had a tough time in his second game but his self-belief got him through it.
“David de Gea's situation is massively different in that despite him only being 20-years-old he has had a couple of seasons with Atletico Madrid and has played for the Spanish Under 21s.
“In comparison to Gary that is a lot of experience and that should stand him in good stead. I have watched him a few times since I knew United were interested and he looks a tremendous athlete.”
However, whereas de Gea has the benefit of matches under his belt against Bailey's rawness, for United's South African the spotlight didn't blaze as fiercely.
“Of course, there was a certain amount of expectation at Old Trafford in those days. There was always that stress but it has grown so much now.
“United are expected to win every game these days and to win a trophy every season. That's an incredible pressure to come into. There will be a big focus on David replacing Edwin Van der Sar. Everything he does will be under the microscope. In the 70s I think Gary got a bit more leeway.
“As defenders you just get on with the job of working with whoever is chosen to play behind you and the object is to work up an understanding as quickly as possible.
“In Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, de Gea has got two of the most experienced central defenders around in front of him. That's a huge help and I don't think it will be too long before they work as a unit.
“I understand David doesn't speak English yet and obviously communication between the keeper and his back four is vital. “Leave it or clear it” sounds very similar in the heat of battle if you don't know the language that well!
“But the club will address that and I think it will take care of itself.”