After a busy pre-season with the Blades putting in good performances in some tough friendlies, hopes were high for FA Womens' Premier League Midlands Division One opener on Sunday.
United had five regulars from last season unavailable so there was room in the 16-player squad on the day for ten new signings to shine.
United got off to a poor start, though, when a ball over the top found Solihull's Lois Jeffries, who slid home past outrushing United 'keeper Jess Houldsworth for 1-0. Shortly afterwards the visitors headed against the United bar.
The home side eventually settled down to their usual neat passing play and were getting some good crosses in, Jen Pearson headed one wide from close range and a dipping cross/shot from Kim Brown on the right had to be palmed over. One of the new signings, Millie Kenyon, then cut in from the left but her dribble was ended with a foul on the edge of the visitors box. Pearson took the resulting free-kick and made it look easy guiding the ball neatly inside the far post for the equaliser after 24 minutes.
Just a minute later centre-forward Tania Marsden got on the end of a short corner to head United into the lead, this being her 108th career goal for the club.
The lead lasted just six minutes for a Solihull player was tripped in the United box and Jeffries sent Houldsworth the wrong way from the spot for 2-2. All square at the break after a well-contested and entertaining half.
To United's frustration the second half started like the first had by conceding three minutes in. This was a curious goal for all the United defenders appealed for a handball in the build-up to no avail and play carried on for Jeffries to score her third, though with a suggestion of offside thrown in!
The game had lots of offside flags going up at both ends and Solihull had one 'goal' disallowed shortly afterwards in the visitors best spell.
United withdrew Marsden, who was suffering with a back problem, though her last touch was to redirect a fine pass from Brown just wide. Nat Shaw was put on and almost immediately nearly scored twice with shots. Another forward was added when Syd Shugafi came on for her debut as United really started to press for the equaliser.
Pearson had an initial shot blocked and Kenyon likewise on the follow up. Another United debutant, Sheldon Ashton, had come up from defence and her low drive brought out the save of the game from Solihull's 'keeper.
United were playing some neat play and Shaw was a real threat with her pace. However, it wasn't to be United's day for Solihull battled to keep the home side out and with ten minutes to go added a fourth of the break, with Abbie Taylor netting.
Blades boss Dan O'Hearne summed up the performance as United reflected on a game they should have got something out of: "A disappointing start to the new season, which I didn't see coming. We were the better footballing team throughout but got out muscled and our decision making at times was poor. We stopped for their third goal and then get caught chasing the game with their fourth. Overall we played well in possession but need to wise up quickly."
On Sunday, United are again at home at Shirecliffe, this time to last season's runners-up Loughborough Foxes , kick-off 2pm.
Blades: Houldsworth, Cawthorn, Ashton, Neary, Robinson, Brown, Hartley, Beanland (Shugafi), Pearson, Kenyon, Marsden (Shaw).
Unused: Ibberson, Marshall, Hoyes.