By scripting two goals in a romp, he made a telling statement on Saturday when another edition of the English Premier League opened. Not Robin van Persie or Christian Benteke but Wayne Rooney.
A beard accentuating the sullen look, Rooney sat stoically through most of Manchester United’s opening game against Swansea in South Wales.
He didn’t show too much emotion when David Moyes, looking earnest, said something before bringing him on and wasn’t seen celebrating when van Persie and Danny Welbeck scored.
After the game, he walked alone.
With the transfer window closing on September 2, it may still be a question of when, Rooney.
If that does happen despite everything Moyes has said so far, it would mean Rooney is serving the equivalent of what people like us would refer to as the “notice period”: a phase when we usually become models of non-production, as workers at Schindler’s factory were described in that Steven Spielberg classic.
Maybe the lad from Croxteth is made differently.
"I find it hard to cool down when things aren’t going my way, and besides, everyone’s like that in the family. My brothers and I aren’t allowed to take anything for granted as we are growing up. We know that if we want something, we have to graft for it,” Rooney has said in the book Wayne Rooney My Decade in the Premier League co-authored by Matt Allen.
Okay, a whole lot of player biographies would have similar words but on Saturday evening, Rooney showed he was willing to ‘graft’ for his time on the football park.
Be it at Manchester United or elsewhere.
It is also true that Rooney’s area of activity might not permit him to serve time thus but there are ways footballers convey the message that they want out.
Picking up fights at training, not giving their best at sessions are but two of them. Injuries are a convenient third.
Andre Villas Boas has already ruled out Gareth Bale from the season’s first three competitive games - ostensibly due to injury - as the Spurs star battles a Real dilemma.
But Rooney must have done enough during training with the reserves and in his time against Scotland last Wednesday for Moyes to think he is getting ready. For Manchester United.
Manchester United supporters welcomed him in the 62nd minute when Rooney replaced Ryan Giggs. Soon after, Rooney selflessly made a superb run dragging a defender away to help van Persie score his second goal.
And in the way he bustled through, absorbing a tough challenge, to play on Welbeck for the fourth goal, Rooney showed commendable work ethic.
As Manchester United sought to play down the clock, Rooney tracked back to help keep possession. Playing his first game for the club since May 5, Rooney typified what it takes to be a true professional.
It’s a lesson that goes well beyond football.
The effort didn’t go unacknowledged.
“He’s not ready yet physically because he’s not done enough training, but he came on and a made a great run for Robin’s goal and played in Danny for his goal, so it will be good for Wayne to get those minutes. I think people know good players and Wayne is a good player. Everyone wants those players in the team and we are delighted to have Wayne playing. Wayne has worked very hard when he has been fit. You cross that white line and enjoy your football and I thought he did that today,” said Moyes after the game.
Before the game Welbeck said on television that even though Manchester United would have a new manager for the first time since 1986 (the striker was still four years from being born), things haven’t really changed because the players remain the same.
He was right. Most of what Manchester United did on Saturday night looked like a team that was managed by Alex Ferguson. Robin flew in the goals, Ryan Giggs was in the starting line-up and, as has been the case in the later part of the season, Rooney on the bench.
Among the many images used to promote the English Premier League, there is one that has Rooney making a laser-perfect diagonal pass to van Persie which the Dutch striker converts on the run with an incredible volley.
If we believe Manchester United - difficult to do that in the transfer season where nothing is what it seems - that Rooney isn’t available it’s because they would need more of that magic this term.
But be it London, Manchester or anywhere else, Rooney’s done his cause no harm with a performance that was honest to himself and his team.
“I would like to think I’ve made one or two good decisions during my time in football…there’s no question that then signing of Wayne Rooney from Everton is right up there with the best of them.”
It’s appropriate that the last word on the player be said by Ferguson in the foreword to the book by Rooney and Allen.