This was the "mundane" match Sir Alex Ferguson wanted to put away professionally before Tuesday evening's seismic encounter with Real Madrid in the Champions League here.
Shinji Kagawa, who performed poorly in the drawn opening leg of the last-16 tie, did the trick for Ferguson and his case for another tilt at José Mourinho's side no harm with an impressively taken hat-trick, before Wayne Rooney's late goal.
The Japanese stroked home his opener in added time at the end of the first half to give United a lead that their dominance, if not end product thus far, deserved.
Antonio Valencia cut back onto his left foot from the right and swung in a cross that Robin van Persie took a stab at with a boot. The ball popped up to Kagawa who was near Mark Bunn's goal and the Japanese scored for the third of his debut season.
The absence of Ryan Giggs from the matchday 18 may have disappointed aficionados who hoped he would make a 1,000th appearance, though it suggested the Welshman will be involved against Real.
The great game of guessing who Ferguson fields on Tuesday began in earnest here. Clues could be found in the blend of frontline operators chosen, including Rooney, Van Persie and Michael Carrick alongside the second tier players – Anderson, Valencia, Chris Smalling and Kagawa.
For the first time this season Ferguson plumped for a 4-3-3 shape, in which Carrick in midfield split Anderson (on the right) and Kagawa, and up front Van Persie was flanked by Rooney (to the left) and Valencia.
Carrick was mentioned by Ferguson on Friday as being among a band of senior players who lead the dressing room and against an average Norwich side it was the 31-year-old who ran the game for United, particularly during the first half. This was done via an exhibition of vision and passing that continually opened up the opposition and the contest for his team.
One ball to Kagawa that slid the forward in through traffic to Norwich's area drew applause from the home congregation. Another from near his own goal had United springing forward as Valencia raced down the right. The winger eventually moved the ball to Van Persie but his was a clumsy touch and Norwich cleared for a corner.
Giggs, who sat through the first half alongside Paul Scholes in the seats reserved for players, did not return after the break. What he missed was Chris Hughton's team finally offering a threat before Kagawa confirmed the result.
Russell Martin, the visiting right-back, aimed a menacing cross at Robert Snodgrass that Nemanja Vidic scrambled away. Snodgrass then fired in a ball that worried the home rearguard.
After Rooney shot when he might have played in Van Persie the Dutchman was taken off with Real in mind as Danny Welbeck, United's scorer at the Bernabéu, entered.
Following a dribble that ended when the striker tripped over himself and a shot that Bunn repelled, Welbeck helped create Kagawa's hat-trick strike and Rooney's fourth for United.
Before that, the Japanese benefited from the class of the Liverpudlian. Carrick launched a Hail Mary of a ball that bounced expertly into Rooney's path. Shaping to shoot, he swept Sébastien Bassong aside with what was revealed as a dummy. Rooney looked up, saw Kagawa's nicely judged run into the area, and squared the ball to him: the wrong-footing finish with the side of a boot gave Bunn no chance.
Kagawa's third came as Norwich wilted. He began the move, passing to Welbeck, who moved the ball onto Rooney and when Kagawa collected again his finish beyond Bunn was coolly done.
As thoughts turned to Tuesday, Rooney was given possession by Welbeck 30 yards out. He skipped to the right the fire a bullet past Bunn and that was 4-0 and job sweetly completed for Ferguson and his players.