By Kelvin YapFollow @@plevyakin
Despite talk of rotating his four strikers, Sir Alex Ferguson continued to start both Robin van Persie and Rooney in the match, with Rooney playing slightly behind Van Persie in between Swansea's midfield and defence.
Nemanja Vidic made his first start after returning from injury while Rafael was ruled out with a slight hamstring injury and Phil Jones took his place as right back.
As for Swansea, Michael Laudrup chose to field Michu as the lone striker rather than play him as a second striker and start Danny Graham. Laudrup handed Kemy Agustien his first league start of the season alongside Leon Britton in place of Ki Sung Yeung, who is the usual partner in midfield.
The decision turned out to be a pivotal one in the match. Agustien, who is more of a ‘runner' than a ‘passer' like Ki, pushed forward on the right side of the pitch and proved to be a crucial part of Swansea's passing movements going forward.
Angel Rangel was also missing for the Swans and Dwight Tiendalli filled in for the Spaniard instead.
United's focus down the right
Both sides usually rely a lot on their right backs to overlap in their attacks and since both Rafael and Rangel are missing in this case, it was rather surprising to see them focus their attacks down their right, but the way they went forward was distinctly different.
It was obvious that Valencia found it hard to create space and time on the right flank without Rafael on the overlap - he failed to find his target with all five of his attempted crosses and more significantly, played 10 backwards passes from the attacking half.
Carrick, who was playing on the right side of centre midfield, was always there to provide an outlet option and became the main route in which United played the ball forward.
When Carrick had the ball, Young would then cut in from the left across the defence to pull an extra man with him, creating space and chaos in the Swansea defence.
It was from such the third time this play worked that Young had a shot saved which led to the corner which subsequently led to Evra's goal from the corner kick.
Swansea's focus down the right
Swansea were also focusing down the play down the right as well, but they were more than willing to bring the ball all the way up to the United box via the wing. This is where Swansea's two ‘second-choice' players, Agustien and Tiendalli, impressed.
As mentioned earlier, Agustien is more of a ‘runner' than a ‘passer' than Ki, which was essential to Swansea's play.
To make an example of how the two would differ: When receiving an outlet ball from Ashley Williams in their own half, Agustien's immediate reaction was to find Jonathan De Guzman, Tiendalli or Nathan Dyer down the right side of the pitch, run into space and provide a ‘bridge' to facilitate play up.
Ki would pick the ball up, find space down the middle and try to spray passes up field for Michu, Dyer or Routledge to run onto.
Agustien's off-ball running meant that Swansea were more direct moving forward (which in turn led to them losing the ball more often, finishing the match at 40% possession) and had an extra man on the attack, while Ki's larger range of passing helped them stabilise play and keep the ball, at the cost of being able to catch their opponent on the counter.
It's not a criticism of either player, but an explanation of their strengths that each of them has to offer. In this case, Laudrup made the right choice to try for a direct approach to catch United before they could reshape their defence and it paid off for him.
It's also clear that United were too wary of the threat that Michu poses, with both Vidic and Evans constantly hovering around him.
For Swansea's goal, it was a combination of two factors.
First, it was carelessness from Evra, who lost track of De Guzman because he was tracking Tiendalli's overlapping run instead, allowing De Guzman's shot to be pushed out for Michu to score.
The blame should also be shouldered by Evans and Vidic as well - Jones was in the tucked into the middle as Valencia was guarding the right flank, which left Evans, Vidic and Jones all marking Michu. Vidic could easily have pushed out left to balance out the defence as there was never a need to put three men to mark one striker.
United were still the better side throughout the match, but they failed to make their dominance count mainly due to Wayne Rooney's poor performance in all aspects of his game - movement, passing and finishing.
Rooney's movement is usually key for United as he is the one receiving the ball before laying it off to his team mates in front of him, but Rooney wasn't mobile enough to run into space to receive the ball and his passing was also poor - there were four occasions where he gave the ball way under little pressure.
It's harsh to pinpoint one player to be responsible for the result, but Rooney was simply off form. A telling fact is that he lost all 12 of his 50/50 contests, which is shocking for a player who is known for his tenacity and determination.
Change of shape for United
United switched to a narrow 4-4-2 shape in the 60th minute when Valencia was brought off for Javier Hernandez, with Young switching to the right flank and Rooney on the left, cutting in like Young did previously.
This move sacrificed United's width, but it made sense as the extra man in the middle had a better chance of creating chances and they were not creating much down the flanks anyway.
United were dominating play with the extra man in the box and had excellent build-up play, but they were again let down by poor touches from Rooney, Van Persie and Young. The trio had 15 of 20 United's shots, but none of it produced a goal.
The match was a high-quality open and entertaining affair due to the ‘continental' style that both sides played.
United were actually doing very well in terms of building up play and player movements until the final ball in the box, which meant that their tactics were working, but the men were not.
Sir Alex Ferguson himself said after the match: "My only criticism is that the final ball at times let us down. No criticism of the performance, it was very good."
Swansea clearly lacked the overall technical quality that United had but they looked threatening with their combination play. Laudrup's decision to field Agustien and Tiendalli was a smart move which paid off.
While they could have easily lost the match, it would not have been due to the lack of tactical nous and a sound game-plan but for the lack of enough quality players to match United.
Vorm - 7.5; Davies - 7; Williams - 8.5; Chico - 7; Tiendalli - 8
Britton - 6.5; Agustien - 8.5; Dyer - 7.5; De Guzman - 7; Routledge - 6.5
Michu - 7
Subs: Ki - 6.5; Moore - 6; Schecter - 6
De Gea - 6; Evra - 7.5; Vidic - 6.5; Evans - 7; Jones - 6.5
Cleverley - 7; Carrick - 8.5; Young - 7.5; Valencia - 5.5
Rooney - 3; Van Persie - 7.5
Subs: Hernandez - 6.5; Giggs - 7; Scholes - 6
Kelvin will be analysing a Premier League match every Monday in Tactics Watch. You can reach him by following his twitter account @plevyakin for more tactical insights and football updates.