Jose Antonio Reyes inspired Arsenal to victory over Manchester United in the Community Shield curtain-raiser in the Millennium Stadium.
The mercurial Spaniard was a thorn in United's side and set up Gilberto Silva to tap home the opening goal.
Alan Smith lashed in United's equaliser but within three minutes Reyes drove home a fierce left-foot shot to restore Arsenal's lead.
Ashley Cole's cross deflected in off Mikael Silvestre for Arsenal's third.
Lauren's foul on Ryan Giggs 22 yards out gave United first sight of goal on four minutes but as the ball was touched sideways, Reyes was quickly out of the traps to block Paul Scholes' shot.
Silky skills from Dennis Bergkamp saw him release Jermaine Pennant and as his low cross came in Thierry Henry snaked out a leg only to guide the ball into Tim Howard's hands from six yards out.
Eric Djemba-Djemba half-blocked Reyes' cross into the path of Bergkamp, whose first-time piledriver was well held at full stretch by Howard.
Scholes dinked a delightful ball over the top for Giggs, only for Pascal Cygan to show his pace and get in a saving tackle.
Old adverseries Thierry Henry and Gary Neville resume hostilities
Arsenal broke with devastating pace but their numerical four-on-two advantage was wasted by Pennant's over-cooked pass, which drove Reyes to the touchline and allowed Silvestre to block the Spaniard's cross.
Howard was again called into action to tip over Henry's free-kick from 20 yards out and Bergkamp let United off the hook in embarrassing fashion when he fell over the ball with only Howard to beat after Henry had sent him clear.
Arsenal's finishing continued to let them down, with Pennant stabbing wide with the goal at his mercy after Howard had parried Henry's shot.
Lauren's intervention prevented Alan Smith getting on the end of a through ball but the £7.5m signing wasted a chance when he blazed over from 16 yards after the ball broke kindly for him.
Smith then turned provider with an inviting cross for Gary Neville that brought a fine save from Jens Lehmann.
Reyes had an incredible start to the second half, converting what could have been an early candidate for goal of the season into one for the miss of the season.
The Spaniard showed delightful skills as he ghosted past Silvestre and then dropped his shoulder to round Howard, only to slice wide of the unguarded goal.
But on 49 minutes he atoned for his miss as he sprinted clear on to Bergkamp's pass and squared the ball for Gilberto to sidefoot home.
Arsenal entered a comfort zone but were shaken out of it when United levelled on 55 minutes. Smith charged down Toure's clearance and although David Bellion was offiside, Smith took the ball himself to lash a shot past Lehmann.
The Gunners restored their lead on 58 minutes when Reyes punished United's failure to clear by blasting home from close range.
Previous feelings between the old adverseries briefly threatened to boil over when Djemba-Djemba's foul on Gael Clichy produced a shoving match involving several players but it quietened down and referee Mike Dean settled for showing yellow cards to Djemba-Djemba and Ashley Cole.
United's defensive frailty handed Arsenal a third on 79 minutes when Gary Neville and Bellion got into a tangle, allowing Cole to break into the box and play in a cross which deflected in off Silvestre.
Arsenal: Lehmann, Lauren, Toure, Cygan, Cole, Pennant, Gilberto, Fabregas (Svard 87), Reyes (Hoyte 80),
Bergkamp (Aliadiere 61, (Clichy 69)), Henry (Van Persie 45).
Subs Not Used: Senderos, Almunia.
Man Utd: Howard, Gary Neville, O'Shea (Spector 82), Silvestre, Fortune (Phil Neville 51), Bellion, Keane (Fletcher 51),
Djemba-Djemba, Giggs (Forlan 51), Scholes (Richardson 74),
Smith (Eagles 73).
Subs Not Used: Carroll.
Bookings: Phil Neville, Djemba-Djemba.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).