United's women's team went down fighting against a more experienced Durham side in their debut match in the FA Women's Championship.
Second half goals from Becky Salicki and Emily Roberts were enough to give the visitors the three points on a day where the hosts struggled to create clear cut chances.
Carla Ward welcomed back captain Ellie Gilliatt to the starting eleven but even her experience couldn't stop what was an understandably nervy opening for a new-look side.
Durham had the clearest chances of the first half, Ellie Fletcher clearing Emily Roberts' effort off the line before Rachel Lee missed a glorious chance to score before the break, slicing an effort just wide from the edge of the box.
United were much improved after the break but still struggled to break down a solid Durham side. Sam Tierney sent a half-volley over the bar before Durham struck the killer blow shortly before the hour mark.
Beth Hepple's cross was flicked on and centre-back Salicki rose highest at the back post to head Durham into the lead.
United fought back though. Substitute Alethea Paul sent in a driven cross that had Hannah Reid scrambling to palm clear before Chloe Dixon lobbed an effort just wide after she found herself through against the Durham goalkeeper.
Another substitute, Tania Marsden, had a chance deep into stoppage time as the Blades desperately looked for a way to snatch her point, but her looping header only landed on the roof of the net.
With the final action of the match, Durham put some gloss on what had been a close match between the two sides. Nikki Davies saved a low effort from Nicki Gears, but the rebound fell to Roberts who composed herself and curled into an empty net to seal the match.
Ward's side now dust themselves off before welcoming FA WSL side Birmingham City in the Continental Cup next Sunday.
Blades: Davies, Barker, Cox, Fletcher, Gilliatt, Tierney, Pennock (Ford 89), Rayner, Merrick (Marsden 71), Dixon, Cresswell (Paul 61)
Unused: Kemp, Ford, Stevens, Ryan