The shadow of Kevin McDonald, from a Sheffield United perspective at least, looked large over this fixture ahead of kick-off.
With Wolverhampton Wanderers making no secret of their desire to sign the visitors’ midfielder - they submitted a bid which triggered a clause in his contract yesterday - David Weir’s preparations were spent fielding questions about transfers rather than tactics.
Having requested 24 hours to consider his next move, it was no surprise to see McDonald omitted from the team which locked horns with Brentford at Griffin Park.
Coady, signed on loan from Liverpool, stepped into the breach having impressed against Burton Albion in midweek.
He acquitted himself well but United still found themselves trailing at the break.
Brentford, who like United tasted defeat in the League One play-offs last term, had made a bright start with Forshaw sending a rasping drive fizzing over Long’s crossbar as early as the second minute.
They also demonstrated a darker side to their nature when Bidwel, the architect of the hosts’ next chance, sent Brandy sprawling with a thundersome tackle which nearly tempted the winger to exact revenge.
Donaldson went close in the eighth minute when his low shot was deflected behind for a bitterly contested corner before dragging another opportunity well wide after beating the offside trap.
The screw was tightened a notch further with Collins forced to produce a perfectly timed tackle to prevent Brentford breaking through.
Saville, on loan from nearby Chelsea, became the first name entered into referee Woolmer’s notebook midway through the half for a late challenge on United’s McGinn.
Brandy enjoyed a moment of respite though, having clearly been singled-out for plenty of rough treatment himself.
United, though, responded by forging a good opening of their own in the 20th minute when the former Walsall winger wriggled between three markers before releasing Westlake, later cautioned for fouling McAleny, along the flank.
But Murphy and Taylor were left frustrated when the full-back’s centre sailed harmlessly out of play.
Westlake redeemed himself, however, by poking the ball away from Saville just as he looked set to convert.
As flare smoke billowed out of the away end and United’s support cranked up the decibel levels, so their team’s performance also improved.
Only for a superb 34th minute finish from FORSHAW to stop them in their tracks.
There appeared little danger when Brentford’s goalscorer collected the ball on the edge of Long’s penalty area.
But a curling shot, which left United’s goalkeeper grasping at thin air, flew over a crowd of players before nestling inside the far post.
Five minutes before the interval, Taylor nearly responded in kind.
McGinn waited before releasing his pass and the former Falkirk marksman did well to ghost across the box but could not find the back of the net.
Taylor in particular had suffered from a lack of quality services before the interval.
Not so McAleny who, 60 seconds after the re-start, was only denied by Long’s fine reaction save.
Brandy saw an angled effort gathered by Button after Taylor had laid the ball off.
It was a sign of things to come as, in the 56th minute United dragged themselves back on level terms.
Bidwell’s stop prevented Coady from tapping home Williams’ low cross but, from Murphy’s resulting corner, COLLINS escaped his marker to head emphatically home.
Six minutes later, Brentford regained the lead. Forshaw robbed McGinn of possession near the by-line before dragging the ball across the area for GRIGG to slide home.
Fillo replaced McAleny in the 67th minute. With just over a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, United introduced Porter and McFadzean for Murphy and McGinn.
They had barely broken sweat when GRIGG claimed his second, in the 75th minute, after Long could only parry Forshaw’s cross.
The United youngster denied Grigg a hat-trick when, four minutes later, he saved his penalty after Maguire had been harshly adjudged to have brought him down.
The Brentford striker departed with five minutes remaining when El Alagui entered the fray.
Coady and Williams were both cautioned before Woolmer called time on the match.