Phil Jones hailed the return of Nemanja Vidic to the Manchester United defence after the Red Devils kept a clean sheet at Everton.
Sir Alex Ferguson's side bounced back from last week's 6-1 drubbing by Manchester City with a morale-boosting 1-0 win at Goodison Park.
The Serbian centre-back gave a commanding performance in his first Premier League appearance since day one of the season as United withstood considerable pressure from the Toffees.
Jones, 19, who himself shone at right-back, told MUTV: "He is our captain and you don't want to go without your captain.
"The determination and greatness shows and it rubs off on everyone else.
"We fought defensively as a unit. We have 11 players when we defend, not just four.
"I thought 11 players defended terrifically well when Everton were throwing everything, the kitchen sink, at us at the end.
"I thought we stood strong as a unit and held together."
Vidic was left out of the derby after his comeback from a two-month lay-off with a calf injury went wrong with a red card on UEFA Champions League duty against Otelul Galati.
He returned at Aldershot in the Carling Cup last week and then started against Everton alongside Jonny Evans, who was given a vote of confidence by manager Sir Alex Ferguson after his derby dismissal.
That left Rio Ferdinand to occupy a place on the bench but Ferguson felt he had made the right call in restoring Vidic.
The Scot, who next week celebrates 25 years in charge at Old Trafford, said: "It was a fantastic performance by Vidic.
"Every ball that came into our box, he got it clear.
"That's his speciality. He's a fantastic header of the ball and that was key for us."
Jones thought the win showed the fighting spirit within the United camp.
He added: "I think everyone showed what Manchester United are about.
"It was a bad day at the office last week but we have shown fantastic team spirit in training.
"We have picked our heads up quick and this was a massive win. We are delighted in the changing room.
"It was a tough battle out there, we expected that from Everton."