this can be done in "edit layout". Double click the portal and the options for that portal will show up, you can set the sort options from there.
The order can be specified in the relationship to the portal or in Portal Setup. The sort order specified in Portal Setup supercedes the order specified for the relationship. You can specify the sort order by opening Manage | Database | Relationships, double clicking the relationship line and then selecting the sort option for the portal's table--this might be what you did given your mention of Manage | Database...