Pep Guardiola began his English adventure pitting his wits against Sunderland on the opening day of the season and now, seven months later, he travels to Wearside this weekend with his side looking formidable in their quest for league, cup and European glory.
If the Premier League title looks unlikely for City right now, the FA Cup and progression in the Champions League both look good bets.
Guardiola had faced David Moyes before the first game of this season when he was manager at Bayern Munich. The two men clashed in the 2014 Champions League when the present Sunderland boss was manager at Manchester United. The Scot appeared to irk the Spaniard with his stifling tactics in the first leg of the quarter final, but the Bundesliga club would eventually progress in the second.
And the Manchester City boss can likely expect a similarly defensive approach from Moyes on Sunday, though as Guardiola has pointed out that tactic has already left Jurgen Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino frustrated and win-less in recent visits to the Stadium of Light:
We are in a good moment now but we have to repeat every single game, again and again....
Tottenham and Liverpool were not able to win in Sunderland.
And Guardiola isn't expecting it will be easy against the side bottom of the table and needing to up their game just to stay in touch with the rest of the pack above:
It doesn't matter where they are in the league. People can think we should win, but every game will be so difficult and so complicated.
All of the headlines in the build up to this one have been about Sergio Aguero. The Argentinian striker has been hailed for his performance against Huddersfield in the Cup midweek and for his determination to prove a point now that new signing and rival for the title of 'head Etihad striker', Gabriel Jesus, has burst out of the City scene through injury as quickly as he burst onto it.
Aguero will likely terrify the ageing legs of John O'Shea and the fragile minds of Lamine Kone and Papy Djilobodji as the trio ponder which combination David Moyes will line them up in for Sunday's game.
Certain domination, the game sewn up by half time and a coasting second half with the opportunity to take key players off the pitch early for a rest. Yep, it can mean only one thing - a team filled with confidence on their way for a stroll at the Stadium of Light.
And as you might imagine, most Manchester City fans are expecting Sunday will be a right laugh at Sunderland's expense.
Here's a few quotes from the Mancunian madness of City forum Blue Moon:
- Kenny1312: I'm going up on Sunday and as I've never seen us win in my 4 previous visits to Sunderland you can blame my presence there if we drop points.
- Domalino: They've conceded 6 in their last 2 games, We've scored 10 in our last 2. Not to underestimate them, but this is one we should win through sheer weight of forward quality.
- Marvin: This is going to be a big test for city. I don't buy any of this nonsense about SAFC being down. They will be a very dangerous side if given any hope because they are desperate.
And here's a couple of thickos:
- Tbooksbluearmy: it all depends on whether they bought Denayer or not. I am fairly sure that he was bought by Sunderland either this season or last which means he will be able to play against us. Even with Denayer we still have to much quality throughout the team for Sunderland in this game, providing we don't make to many mistakes at the back. I will take a 2-1 win and not play the game, but I do expect us to win by a comfortable score say 3-1 or 4-1.
- Swpswp: Is that balloon Cattermole still hanging around their squad? He belongs on Robot Wars not near our finest.
- Love_Each_Day: Sunderland are good team
And a final thought from a traitorous Sunderland fan that some may recognise from elsewhere on the internet:
- ShieldsBlackCat: It will be a training session for your boys. I love MCFC. If you aren't 4-0 up at half time at least I will eat my season card. If Stoke can be 3-0 in just over half an hour then God knows what your brilliant boys like Aguero who will walk through our non existent defence, Nasri and Fernandinho will do. I am thinking one of the heaviest home defeats in PL history. I am thinking if we can only have one shot against Everton, Cab will have nothing to do for 90 minutes.