Pre-season’s battles are not only fought between opposing teams, but by team-mates as they scrap for starting spots when the real action gets under way.
This was the case on Sunday night as Manchester United edged a, frankly appalling, penalty shootout against Real Madrid in California’s Levi’s Stadium, following a 1-1 draw within 90 minutes.
Here, we review the players who grasped their chance to impress and the ones will need to improve, sharpish, before 2017/18 kicks off.
The versatile Netherlands youth international did his prospects of carving out more first-team minutes no harm.
Placed in opposition to Gareth Bale at right-back for the first half, the 19-year-old showcased his usual keen competitiveness. But what was most assuring was the presence of composure beyond his years as he kept the Wales superstar deathly quiet.
This had been glaringly absent in the opening 5-2 friendly win against LA Galaxy, in which he was brought on as a half-time substitute then removed by 86 minutes after a number of rash moments.
As an able back-up across the defence or at defensive midfield, the Ajax youth product looks poised to better his four starts from last term.
Another gem appears to have been mined from Madrid’s academy.
Hakimi, 18, curbed the influence of on-song France forward Anthony Martial during the second half, something celebrated Spain right-back Dani Carvajal singularly failed to do during the club’s opening 45 minutes of pre-season.
The Morocco international also exhibited his background as a flying winger with a number of bursts up the pitch.
With the erratic Danilo sold to Manchester City, expect to see far more of Hakimi next season.
This has not been the start that the highly-rated Sweden international envisaged at United.
Culpable in both LA Galaxy’s goals on debut, his stumbles continued at Levi’s Stadium with the concession of a comically-bad penalty which ensured Ronald McDonald – who led out the teams – wasn’t the only clown on the pitch.
The £31 million (Dh148.4 million) buy from Benfica got his timing all wrong as he swept the on-rushing Theo Fernandez into the air like a rag doll, with the ball several metres away.
The demands of playing at the highest level are eluding him at present. Yet such luminaries as Jaap Stam endured a similarly-suspect pre-season upon his arrival in 1998, before developing into one of the club’s greatest-ever defenders.
Lindelof, and manager Jose Mournho, must hope history repeats itself.
It is hard to believe that all-powerful Madrid president Florentino Perez will make it three-consecutive summers without adding another ‘Galactico’ to his collection.
With Monaco’s prodigious striker Kylian Mbappe believed to be the latest object of his covetous affections, something has to give in the ‘BBC’. Portugal icon Cristiano Ronaldo is untouchable, while France outcast Karim Benzema quality was there for all to see last term.
This is why Bale cannot afford the ineffectual displays to mount up. Despite getting the better of Lindelof to win and then convert a penalty, he was bossed all too easily by the coltish Fosu-Mensah, when the vast difference in standing between the players should have made this a one-sided contest.
He will need to be much improved against Manchester City on Wednesday, when Madrid play their second warm-up fixture.