With progress to the Europa League knockout phase already assured and a frantic domestic fixture schedule to juggle, young prospects and players needing minutes made the 6,000-mile round trip for the Group L dead rubber.
United had never travelled so far for a European tie and stand-in captain Jesse Lingard put their youngest ever side for a major continental match on course for victory in Nur-Sultan, only for already eliminated Astana to rally and seal a famous 2-1 win through Bernard’s own goal.
This match was not without positives and would have been a challenging trip even for an experienced group, given the six-hour time difference, distance travelled and temperatures reaching -22 degrees Celsius outside the roofed Astana Arena.
But Solskjaer will no doubt be frustrated by the way his side let a strong start slip after Lingard’s first goal in 10 months, especially as things would have been so different had Tahith Chong not missed an open goal moments before Dmitri Shomko’s superb leveller.
Bernard inadvertently sealed previously pointless Astana a stunning win on a night that saw United give out six debuts, with an outfield starting line-up average age of just 20 years and 221 days.
Even with 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant making his first start, the overall average was just 22 years and 26 days.