With Chelsea winning so convincingly earlier in the day, it was imperative Sir Alex Ferguson's side answered the call. And they did that in style, as goals from Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick and Antonio Valencia capped an impressive performance.
United's victory kept them five points behind Chelsea and the manner of the win as much as the result will have pleased Ferguson, as his players shrugged aside an Everton team who came with the intention of defending for their lives.
Everton deployed Louis Saha in a lone attacking role and the 4-5-1 formation simply invited United on.
And at Old Trafford, or any other ground for that matter, the champions do not need a second invitation to attack and for the first 15 minutes the game resembled a siege.
But a shot that fizzed wide from Wayne Rooney was United's only noteworthy effort as Everton defended with spirit and in numbers.
Everton were rarely seen as an attacking force, although Saha showed his prowess in the penalty area when swivelling and shooting on target from Leighton Baines's cross.
Fletcher has grown in stature over the past 18 months and is an integral player for United. He dominated the midfield in the opening half and it came as no surprise that he fired his side ahead on 35 minutes.
The impressive Patrice Evra delivered a long cross from the left that was nodded to Fletcher on the edge of the box. With the ball bouncing high, Fletcher got his leg over the ball and made sweet contact, sending his shot arrowing into the top corner.
David Moyes threw on Yakubu for Dan Gosling at the interval to provide his side with some added punch and it had an impact.
Sylvain Distin found himself in an advanced position and shrugged off Rafael before teeing-up Saha, but his shot drifted wide, while John Heitinga fired straight at Edwin van der Sar.
Everton opened up United shortly before the hour and Marouane Fellaini tucked the ball home, but he had strayed fractionally offside.
Shortly afterwards Van der Sar had to be alert to race off his line and gather with Tim Cahill closing in as Everton threatened an upset.
Yakubu was the man who played the ball in for Cahill and his impact was impressive. The big Nigerian's presence was an unsettling one for United and he shrugged aside Wes Brown before shooting narrowly wide.
United have the ability to take the wind from opponents' sails and they did that on 67 minutes.
The second goal had a touch of fortune to it as Rooney's shot from a corner was so poor that it went all the way back to Ryan Giggs who had taken the corner. The Welshman looked up and picked out Carrick and he slotted the ball into the corner to nip the Everton resurgence in the bud.
Paul Scholes turned 35 this week and the legs may not have the zip of old, but the mind remains sharp and he fashioned the third for Valencia on 76 minutes with a short burst and neat pass.