David Moyes has smashed some unwanted records in his first five months at Manchester United. Before this season, West Brom had not won at Old Trafford since 1978, Everton had not won at Old Trafford since 1992 and Newcastle had not won at Old Trafford since 1972. And, to continue a theme akin to the swimming pool supervisor's anecdote in The Day Today, Aston Villa have not beaten United at home in the Premier League since 1995.
On 19 August 1995, this author attended his first United away game at Villa Park on what was a blisteringly hot summer day. Aged seven, and an avid viewer of the 1993-94 season review, Villa away had the potential to be special. The black kit, the floodlights and a superb following illuminated one of English football's greatest games in the 1990s.
But there was no black kit and no floodlights two seasons on, and auspicious weather does not mean an auspicious occasion.
The previous campaign was the first I seriously followed United. Losing the title on the final day to a small-time West Ham team and the FA Cup final the following week to an awful Everton side was a pretty brutal introduction to the fine line between delight and despair.
Ian Taylor slides in to commence United's opening day catastrophe
Alex Ferguson thought so, too. Mark Hughes, the icon of a generation of Reds, and who had signed a new contract months earlier, was sold to Chelsea. Paul Ince, heralded by Eric Cantona as "the best midfielder in Europe", headed to Internazionale and Andrei Kanchelskis, the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year, joined Everton. Ferguson didn't spend a single penny that summer. Had this happened in the social network age, traffic on Twitter would have peaked.
Clad in the blue-and-white away Umbro strip worn in that year's FA Cup run at Sheffield United and the semi-final, I was disappointed to discover, when United emerged, they wore what was the footballer's funeral kit. It appeared Umbro had hired the adidas designer who conjured up the so-bad-it-was-good acid-inspired Haçienda tribute, only this time he must have been on anti-depressants.
In turned out the choice of kit was appropriate.
Villa, managed by Brian Little, eviscerated a United side bereft of Steve Bruce, Andy Cole, Ryan Giggs and Cantona in the first 45 minutes to take a 3-0 half-time lead. Ian Taylor and Mark Draper got on the scoresheet, but it was Dwight Yorke who wielded the baton, becoming the latest opponent to impress Ferguson enough he would one day sign for United.
Yorke finished the scoring as United, the season review video frankly asserted, "suffered in the sun". Phil Neville, 18 at the time, suffered an ignominy Patrice Evra would experience a decade later when he was substituted at half-time for No.24, David Beckham. Typically, United's frustration was expressed by a tackle from 20-year-old Paul Scholes, the only player booked.
Admittedly, yours truly has not seen the full 90 minutes since. I don't particularly want to, either. However, what is oft-forgotten is United, inspired by an unrelenting Roy Keane, battered Villa after the pause. Mark Bosnich was busy in front of the North Stand, although this was before United's powers of recovery psychologically sapped opponents and a comeback never seemed possible.
David Beckham, free of tattoos - and a boot sponsor - scored United's only goal
“Villa Park hummed with satisfaction,” wrote Leon Hickman in the Birmingham Mail, but it was United fans who were making a din at 0-3. Eventually, the seemingly impregnable Bosnich was breached by Beckham's deflected effort, as he claimed his first League goal for United and the score ended 3-1. Brian McClair dryly remarked afterwards United only needed 40 points to avoid relegation.
It is one of the few opening day matches which boasts its own quote. Alan Hansen’s critique might have been a classic knee-jerk, although Ferguson admitted "there was not a lot wrong" with the Match of the Day pundit's statement. Villa, for a brief period, enjoyed bogeyman status against United, as the clubs drew their next three fixtures 0-0.
Driving back from Birmingham, there was a Tottenham coach in front of us and two lads around my age recognised my kit and immediately mocked me from the sanctuary of their back seats. Spurs have won two cups since then, while United won two that season.
Villa's only success against United at home since their 1995 triumph was in a 1999 League Cup tie, when the visitors' line-up included Ronnie Wallwork, Michael Clegg, Danny Higginbotham, John Curtis and Michael Twiss, among others.
The post-mortem will be graver for Moyes than the 1995 autopsy should United record a third successive League loss in the midlands on Sunday. That hasn't happened in 17 years, and they still went on to win the League. They are unlikely to this time.