The 19-year-old, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic serving the second game of his suspension, was handed a rare chance to impress up front at the Riverside and duly took it with a bustling, effervescent performance through the middle.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, was quick to point out the problems suffered by the Middlesbrough back four under the weight of Rashford’s raw power at No.9.
Jose: "With his movement and pace, Rashford played phenomenal. Goals will arrive, no problem." #MUFC
— Shamoon Hafez (@ShamoonHafez) March 19, 2017
One thing’s for sure: Bernado will have nightmares for some time after that. This was, above anything, a performance symbolic of how far the youngster has come under Mourinho. The goalscoring prowess that hallmarked his time under Louis van Gaal was actually absent today; in its place was a maturer, more rounded approach – something clearly engendered this season under Mourinho and alongside Ibrahimovic.
His movement, as Mourinho noted, was outstanding against a stellar but largely immobile back four. He was popping up everywhere, often interchanging with the likes of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata, always serving as a forward-thinking option as United’s new three-at-the-back approach started to show visible signs of clicking ahead of the international break.