The 31-year-old moved to Goodison Park over the summer following a season on the fringes under Jose Mourinho and returned to Old Trafford for the first time on Sunday.
He produced a promising individual performance and went close to scoring on a couple of occasions, but Man United ultimately romped to a 4-0 win hallmarked by another late flurry of goals.
And Mourinho, speaking after the game, noted that Rooney received the reception he deserved and insisted he would return to United at some point in the future.
“It is the nature of English fans and big clubs when a player is big in the club and has an important part of the club’s history,” he said. “I think every club in England has that.”
“I can only speak about Stamford Bridge and Old Trafford, and in both stadiums when you have former players, the reception is normally phenomenal.
“He is at home and one day I believe he will be back home.”
The question of whether Rooney will come back to United as a coach, or perhaps in some kind of advisory role, belongs to the future.
A more pressing issue – one magnified by his forlorn expression as he sat on the bench at Old Trafford as his former side ripped apart his boyhood club – is what Rooney does with the rest of his playing career.
Will he, along with Ronald Koeman’s other signings, make an impact at Goodison Park? The 31-year-old will, you sense, want to retire there in a few year’s time. But football moves fast, and a player of Rooney’s pedigree will always receive offers from all corners of the globe. He could have retired by this time next year; he could have miraculously come out of international retirement and won the World Cup.
What we can be certain of, however, is that it won’t be boring, and never too far away from the public eye.