When Louis van Gaal announced plans to change Manchester United's patterned 4-4-2/4-3-3 formations to a foreign 3-5-2, eyebrows were raised.
By the time Man Utd lost at home to Swansea City, those eyebrows would have fallen off the faces of many fans. Funnily enough, the disappointing aspect would not have been the result, indeed, most football fans would have known a shock was on the cards when they caught a glimpse at how weak the Man United starting line up looked.
Whilst in any light United do not possess a strong squad, their weakness are being exacerbated by the 3-5-2 formation they are currently using.
Firstly, the switch to three defenders exposes the fact United only have good (Evans) to average (Jones and Smalling) defenders. Whilst in theory increasing the numbers in the back should help produce more clean sheets, at the same time it reduces the protection the defence gets and puts more emphasis on excellent defending - something United to not excel in.
Furthermore, as the midfield is depleted, it puts added pressure on at least one (ideally two or more) defenders to be specialists in playmaking from deep. Thomas Vermaelen made a name for himself doing this for Arsenal and it was no surprise van Gaal turned to him given the technical dearth of United's current defenders. In failing to get Vermaelen, United's build up play will continue to be lethargic.
Finally, United's wing back situation looks in dire straits as several players continue to be played out of position - perhaps suggesting it was this part of the formation van Gaal was alluding to when stating United needed an adjustment period.
Whilst Luke Shaw is United's first choice on the left side, the right side is looking rather ominous. Neither Rafael, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young have performed consistently for United for several seasons. As if that was bad enough, none of them except Rafael are specialists in that position - moreover, not only is Rafael inconsistent, he is injury-prone.
As van Gaal has identified throughout pre-season and again in the post-match conference against Swansea, Man Utd are in desperate need of new players. However, with the transfer window two weeks away from ending and mega-moves for Juan Cuadrado, Angel Di Maria, Mats Hummels. Mehdi Benatia and Arturo Vidal looking more and more unlikely as the hours drift by, United would be better off sticking to a tried and trusted formation. It won't make the personnel any better, but at the very least they will be settled playing in familiar positions.