Zorya Luhansk
Manchester United will visit the Chornomorets Stadium on 8 December Alexei Kravtsov/EuroFootball/Getty Images

Manchester United return to Europa League action tonight (29 September) with a Group A clash against FC Zorya Luhansk at Old Trafford. Jose Mourinho's side, who have recovered from a panic-inducing three-game losing streak with comfortable victories over Northampton Town and Leicester City, are still searching for their first points of the season in Europe's secondary club competition after opening the campaign with an insipid 1-0 defeat to Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord in Rotterdam.

That result, sealed by a controversial late goal from Dutch midfielder Tonny Vilhena, was much-changed United's fourth successive European away loss. However, you have to imagine that they will surely find the going somewhat smoother this time around against an overwhelming underdog with no recent European pedigree to speak of.

So just who are the visiting team that even Mourinho admitted that he did not know much about following last month's draw? IBTimes UK takes a look...

Where do they play?

Zorya hail from the city of Luhansk, where they previously played at Avanhard Stadium. However, much like near neighbours Shakhtar Donetsk, the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine has seen them exiled from their home and since 2014 the team have been based at the 12,000-capacity Slavutych Arena in Zaporizhia after their own ground was damaged by shelling. They host Europa League fixtures at the larger Chornomorets Stadium in Odessa.

Zorya tend to enjoy a positive relationship with the reputable Shakhtar and every season their squad features a host of promising players on loan from the nine-time champions.

Who is their manager?

Yuriy Vernydub initially spent two years as an assistant at Zorya after spells with FC Metalurh Zaporizhya and was handed the reins on a temporary basis following the departure of Anatoliy Chantsev in 2011 before being appointed as his successor on a permanent basis. A former defender who represented multiple Ukrainian clubs during his playing career and also won the Uefa Cup during a three-year spell with Zenit St Petersburg, the 50-year-old has guided a resurgent Zorya to back-to-back fourth-place finishes in the Ukrainian Premier League.

Vernydub, overlooked by Shakhtar in the summer as Paulo Fonseca was chosen as the successor to Mircea Lucescu, also led them to the final of last season's domestic cup. Zorya lost 2-0 to Shakhtar at Arena Lviv courtesy of goals from Oleksandr Gladkyy either side of half-time.

How good is their league form?

Vernydub's men have begun the 2016/17 season in positive fashion and currently lie second in the Ukrainian Premier League, trailing only dominant Shakhtar. They have amassed a total of 20 points following six wins and two draws from their opening nine matches, with a solitary defeat coming at the hands of Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in late August.

Zorya overcame reigning champions Dynamo Kiev by a goal to nil away from home earlier this month courtesy of defender Yevhen Opanasenko's last-gasp winner and head to Manchester on the back of a 2-1 win over Vorskla Poltava that featured goals from experienced Serbian midfielder Zeljko Ljubenovic and Brazilian forward Paulinho. Their forthcoming trip to Old Trafford is followed by a difficult game at Shakhtar in which they have the opportunity to close a five-point gap at the summit.

How have they fared on the continent?

Zorya, who won their only [Soviet] league title as Zorya Voroshilovgrad all the way back in 1972 and reached the final of the Soviet Cup in both 1974 and 1975, first ventured into the European Cup during the 1973/74 season. They defeated Cypriot side APOEL 3-0 on aggregate before being narrowly beaten by Spartak Trnava in round two.

In 2014/15, Zorya thrashed KF Laci of Albania and also edged past Molde in the early Europa League qualifying rounds before suffering an agonising 5-4 play-off round defeat to Feyenoord that included a 4-3 second-leg loss at De Kuip in which Elvis Manu bagged the all-important winner in stoppage time.

They fell at the same hurdle last year, beaten 4-2 by Legia Warsaw after breezing past Charleroi, and were cruelly denied victory in their first ever group stage match earlier this month when Fenerbahce defender Simon Kjaer's dramatic 96th-minute equaliser cancelled out an opening goal from loanee Dmytro Grechyshkin.

Is Mourinho now fully up to speed?

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho has completed his homework on Thursday night's opponents Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

It would appear so, yes.

"I know [about them] because I watch matches – I watched their match against Fenerbahce, I watched their match against Dynamo Kiev," he revealed during Wednesday's pre-match press conference. "I chose two good ones, two big ones – one at home, one away, against two difficult opponents and now I know what I saw, what I watched, what I analysed. One of my assistants went to watch their game against Fenerbahce live and another one went to the game against Dynamo.

"So we tried to collect the important information to give to our players, so our players know the way they play, their important players, their style, their philosophy, their dynamics and yes, I think we are prepared."

He added: "The Europa League is a competition Man United isn't normally in, so when these teams have a giant like Man United in front of them, it's a huge moment for them and they come to the game with incredible motivation. This team defends well and they have three attacking players that I used to call 'runners' because they run and counter-attack."