It was a tactic reminiscent of the evening when United last played Real at Old Trafford in 2003 with David Beckham axed from the side.
It was a decision that would eventually lead to Beckham quitting the club a few months later.
The consequences of omitting Rooney will reverberate round Old Trafford in the days to come with more speculation about a possible move to Paris Saint-Germain or — whisper it softly — a short trip across Manchester to the Etihad, says The Sun.
Former skipper Roy Keane went as far as to say Rooney, 27, would be viewing it as the writing already being on the wall.
Are Rooney's days numbered at United? Or are we making too much of his omission? Give us your shout below...