In a stop-start Premier League campaign Manchester United head to the Riverside on Sunday to face Middlesbrough in what is the second of just two league fixtures in a seven-week period between mid-February and the beginning of April.
The short turnaround from their latest Europa League qualification has naturally frustrated Jose Mourinho, but the Red Devils have a job to do against a Boro side who will be looking to make a statement following the sacking of boss Aitor Karanka.
With an international break to come before United then face three league games in eight days, a win to sign off with would be just the tonic for a side running to stand still at the moment in the Premier League.
MAN UTD INJURIES
Paul Pogba's early withdrawal with a hamstring injury was the biggest news to come out of Thursday's win over Rostov and, just as Henrikh Mkhitaryan's similar strain against Saint-Etienne ruled him out of the EFL Cup final which followed, there is no hope of the Frenchman returning in time to face Boro on Sunday.
Mourinho's early diagnosis suggested a lay-off of around three weeks, which would see Pogba miss at least three league games in total.
Elsewhere, Daley Blind's knock to the head at Old Trafford makes him a doubt to make the trip north, but Anthony Martial could come back into contention after returning to training on Wednesday.
Wayne Rooney's knee problem, sustained in a training-ground collision with Phil Jones, is likely to keep him out for another game, with his exclusion from Gareth Southgate's England squad evidence of the lack of optimism for a quick return.
Marcos Rojo is chief among those who could be due a rest after Mourinho stated the Portuguese had hit a physical wall late in the game against Rostov following the heavy recent workload.
MAN UTD SUSPENSIONS
Since they last stepped out for a Premier League fixture against Bournemouth, United have been hit with a double blow on the disciplinary front. Zlatan Ibrahimovic's elbow on Tyrone Mings against the Cherries ruled him out of domestic duty for three matches, while Ander Herrera's first-half dismissal in the FA Cup quarter-final loss to Chelsea sits him out for two games.
Both miss the trip to Middlesbrough as a result, and the pair will again be unavailable when West Brom come to Old Trafford on April 1.
Boro are in the luxurious position of having no current suspension worries.
MAN UTD POTENTIAL STARTING LINE-UP
There are plenty of question marks for Mourinho to consider ahead of Sunday's game, with this arguably being his most compromised team selection as Manchester United manager.
The suspensions of Ibrahimovic and Herrera are one thing, but the loss of Pogba and Rooney and doubt over Blind add to his woes. Then there are the worries over Martial's fitness and fears for fatigue to Rojo in particular. Add in a potential change of system again, and United could be all-change for Sunday.
After three games matching up a back three against similar shapes, Mourinho may well decide to revert back to a 4-2-3-1 for Boro, with the midfield almost picking itself due to the absences of Herrera and Pogba. He could decide to forego Marouane Fellaini and play with Michael Carrick behind an attacking midfield quartet, but that may be seen as a risky move away from home.
If Rojo and Blind miss out at the back, Matteo Darmian is likely to be recalled ahead of Luke Shaw, while there has to be a change up front due to Ibrahimovic's absence. His spot may well go again to Marcus Rashford, with Martial likely to start on the left if fully fit. The only other real quandary relates to the potential inclusion of Jesse Lingard ahead of one of Juan Mata or Mkhitaryan.
MIDDLESBROUGH TEAM NEWS
Middlesbrough's biggest change by far ahead of Sunday's game comes in the manager's office as Steve Agnew takes temporary charge following the midweek sacking of Karanka. Mourinho's former Real Madrid No.2 had been in charge for three-and-a-half years, taking the club from the verge of relegation to League One to the Premier League but ultimately paid the price for a lack of bite in the final third this term.
Agnew will be hoping to have Calum Chambers, Daniel Ayala, George Friend, Rudy Gestede and Bernardo all available after recent knocks, although Gestede has seen his dismal record at Premier League level extend to only one win in 41 games for three different clubs.
Boro's record of just nine shots per game in the Premier League this season has them on course to record the lowest strike rate in over a decade, but with talents such as Alvaro Negredo and the lightning quick Adama Traore United will need to be on their toes if Agnew releases the shackles on his players for his first game in charge.
BEST OPTA MATCH FACTS
Middlesbrough are winless in their last 12 meetings with Man Utd in all competitions (D5 L7), although they did progress via penalties in their League Cup clash in October 2015.
The Red Devils have scored in each of their last 14 away league games against Middlesbrough; their longest active streak against a single opponent.
Manchester United’s next win will be their 600th in the Premier League, becoming the first side to reach that landmark.
Middlesbrough’s next loss in the Premier League will be their 1000th defeat in the English top-flight and they would become the 14th team to do so.
This game will see the team who averages the fewest shots on target (Middlesbrough – 2.4 per game) face the team who attempts the most per game (Manchester United – 6.3 per game).
Manchester United are currently on the longest unbeaten run in the Premier League (17 games), while opponents Middlesbrough are on the longest current winless run in the competition (10 games).
TV COVERAGE & KICK-OFF TIME
The Riverside Stadium showdown kicks off at 12:00 (GMT) on Sunday, with TV coverage in the UK getting underway at 11:00 (GMT) on BT Sport 1.