Romelu Lukaku's 100th Premier League goal set Manchester United on course for a comfortable victory against relegation-threatened Swansea.
Putting aside the spectre of Manchester City winning the title in next weekend's derby clash, Jose Mourinho's men regained second spot from Liverpool thanks to a superb first-half display at Old Trafford.
Summer signing Lukaku's 100th top-flight goal was complemented by Alexis Sanchez's second since arriving in January as United ran out deserved 2-0 victors against Carlos Carvalhal's Swansea.
Mourinho's unbeaten record against the Welsh side never looked in jeopardy on an afternoon when he used his programme notes to reiterate United's "reality'' a fortnight on from his remarkable press conference.
Lukaku was one of few players to come out well from that rant and impressed again after the international break, opening the scoring inside five minutes via a deflection off Alfie Mawson to become the 28th player -- and fifth youngest -- to rack up a Premier League century.
Jesse Lingard and Sanchez were key in the build-up, with the on-form duo combining in the 20th minute for the latter to smartly fire United further ahead.
David De Gea produced a stunning double save to deny substitute Tammy Abraham when Swansea belatedly jolted into life, but Carvalhal was unable to inspire a shock comeback against friend and compatriot Mourinho.
The United boss recalled Paul Pogba for the Swans' visit and included Michael Carrick on the bench in a coaching capacity ahead of the captain's summer retirement.
The midfielder did not have to wait long to celebrate his first goal as a coach as United capitalised on Swansea's uncharacteristic meekness.
Lingard's clever ball to Sanchez was then fed into Lukaku, whose fierce attempt was taken out of Lukasz Fabianski's reach via a deflection off Mawson.
The Belgium international's 100th Premier League goal would have been followed by another had the Swansea goalkeeper not prevented him firing home after a lovely flick by Lingard.
The attacking midfielder was performing as well as he had done during the international break with England and saw a low drive denied before scuffing wide.
But Lingard would make a telling contribution in the 20th minute as Mike van der Hoorn failed to cut out his through ball and Sanchez continued to hit a fine, right-footed effort into the bottom corner.
The Chilean was looking sharp but Lingard shone the brightest in the first half, finding the net only for his goal to be ruled out for offside.
Swansea boss Carvalhal made changes in a bid to improve things after a shot-free first half, but Sanchez was close to making it three when leaping to direct a Lukaku header just over.
Juan Mata went close with an acrobatic attempt from Pogba's clipped pass, before De Gea awoke from his slumber to superbly deny Abraham twice in quick succession.
First the Chelsea loanee turned superbly away from Victor Lindelof to get away an attempt met by a super one-handed stop. When the ball came back into the box, De Gea pushed Abraham's shot around the post to leave the striker punching the deck.
United took the sting out of the game after that scare but nearly had a third 10 minutes from time as Pogba played in Lukaku, only for Fabianski's to deny the striker at his near post.