Federico Macheda scored the only goal midway through the first half as United took the first steps in their bid to wrest back the Premier League title they lost to Manchester City in dramatic circumstances on the final day of last season.
An experimental United side looked short of their best, with goalkeeper Anders Lindegaard called on to make a couple of decent saves and the hosts only denied a penalty due to an offside flag.
Yet with four players in the United line-up who have yet to make their competitive debuts - and more introduced in the second half - a low-key outing was to be expected.
Macheda in particular will hope to continue to impress, before England forward Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck link up with the squad in Scandinavia next month.
Macheda has scored just three times in 51 appearances for United since announcing his arrival in 2009 with vital goals against Aston Villa and Sunderland, and has endured unproductive loans spells at Sampdoria and QPR,
In effect, it has been three wasted years for the Italian, who will be 21 next month and whose career is now approaching a crossroads.
He took this opportunity to catch the eye, though, and it was his shot that was parried towards Javier Hernandez by Tapuwa Kapini inside the opening two minutes.
The Mexican was unable to react quickly enough, however, and the ball bounce into him before rolling wide.
Macheda broke the deadlock when he collected Dimitar Berbatov's pass and calmly found the net.
Despite his assist, Berbatov's days at Old Trafford are surely numbered.
The Bulgarian was at least enjoying his deep-lying role here, though, and met makeshift left-back Robbie Brady's astute corner kick perfectly on the edge of the area, thundering a volley goalwards that Kapini did well to touch over.
Of the United youngsters on show, Warrington-born teenager Jesse Lingard started well but faded and the experiment of converting Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Brady into a full-back showed promise.
Highly-regarded 18-year-old Tyler Blackett was also given a taste of first-team action.
However, Ferguson kept £17million arrival Shinji Kagawa on the bench until the final two minutes, which offered little chance for the Japanese playmaker to make any meaningful contribution.
United now face Ajax Cape Town in Cape Town on Saturday.