City had a score to settle coming into only the second ever Hudson River derby, having lost the inaugural clash 2-1 in April, but a recent three-match winning streak had stoked optimism for Jason Kreis's side getting their own back tonight.
As if their rich vein of form was not enough, the appearance of two familiar faces before kickoff provided yet another reason to be cheerful.
Legendary Italian midfielder Andrea Pirlo - thought to be on the brink of signing for City - effectively confirmed his switch from Juventus after being presented to the fans before the clash got underway.
With Frank Lampard - who will officially join up with the Sky Blues on July 1 - also in attendance, the stage was set for Kreis's men to impress under the watchful eyes of their would-be teammates.
Only six minutes elapsed before the hosts got themselves off to an ideal start, as Andrew Jacobson's flick-on was met by McNamara, who controlled the ball on his chest before guiding the ball past Luis Robles.
Bradley Wright-Phillips carried the most danger for the Red Bulls, and the former Charlton Athletic hitman almost levelled matters when he flashed a shot narrowly wide of Josh Saunders's goal on the half-hour mark.
The visitors finished the half on top but Jesse Marsch's men struggled to make the most of their advantage prior to the whistle.
Nevertheless, Red Bulls emerged for the second period with the same intensity that saw them dominate the end of the first half, and it was not long before they flipped the game on its head.
First, Wright-Phillips - who had 12 goals at the same stage last term - volleyed home the equaliser on 47 minutes for his sixth of the season, before Chris Duvall slammed a second from close range five minutes later to stun the hosts.
Shortly after, Wright-Phillips was denied a third by the width of the post, before then missing a one-on-one with Saunders as City clung on to their one-goal deficit.
On Saturday night, the summit of the Empire State Building illuminated blue - the result of a poll for the fans to determine who would win tonight's derby.
However, towering defender Matt Miazga ensured that red would be the dominant colour in the city that never sleeps for the time being by planting a header past Saunders on 74 minutes to seal the victory. body check tags ::