The prolific Dutchman's name was conspicuous by its absence as the teams were read out for the Barclays Premier League clash, with his place being taken by Danny Welbeck. He was not even among the substitutes, while Ashley Young was also included in the side for Shinji Kagawa.
City made just one change from the side which launched their Champions League campaign with victory over Viktoria Plzen in midweek, with striker Alvaro Negredo replacing Edin Dzeko.
United manager David Moyes revealed Van Persie's absence was due to a groin strain but played down the significance of the injury.
"He was nursing a wee bit of a groin strain during the week," Moyes told Sky Sports 1. "We thought he might be okay, but not quite.
"We gave him every chance, he had a real good opportunity of making it.
"It's nothing serious, it might keep him out for a few days but it's not too bad. He might be okay for Wednesday or maybe next week."
United face Liverpool in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday and West Brom in the Premier League on Saturday.