The feel-good factor is back at Old Trafford but FA Cup third-round weekend proved City are still Manchester’s top dogs.
Pep Guardiola’s team selection against Rotherham highlighted the gulf in class between City and neighbours United.
For the Catalan to have made eight changes to the team that beat Liverpool and still be able to call on the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Riyad Mahrez, Kyle Walker, Ilkay Gundogan, Nicolas Otamendi and Gabriel Jesus – although he is struggling at the moment – was scary.
United’s interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, like Guardiola, rung the changes for their game against Reading on Saturday but wasn’t able to bring in anything like the same level of quality.
Where Gundogan came in for City, Fred came in for United, and where De Bruyne came in for City, Andreas Pereira came in for United.
Scott McTominay and Phil Foden are respective academy products of United and City but Foden is a far superior operator to United’s lanky midfielder.
Solskjaer has altered the mood at United but City will continue to be the dominant team in Manchester for the foreseeable future.
Jesus eventually got on the scoresheet against Rotherham but only when presented with an open goal from three yards out after some fine Raheem Sterling work down the left wing.
Three times in the first half the Brazilian fluffed his lines from inside the six-yard box and he should not be considered an able deputy for the ruthless Sergio Aguero while he is in such rotten form.
Guardiola was asked about Jesus’ profligacy in his post-match press conference and opted to focus on his striker’s good positioning rather than his awful finishing.
Jesus will likely be afforded another opportunity to impress when Burton visit in the League Cup on Wednesday night and he needs to take it.
Phil Foden scored his first Etihad goal shortly before half-time and showed glimpses of class but he is still extremely raw.
He lost possession a number of times and was on the periphery for spells, while the more experienced Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne ran the show.
Gundogan notched four assists in the drubbing – the first of which for Foden’s goal – while De Bruyne was energetic and purposeful from the off and would’ve had a hat-trick of assists for himself were it not for Jesus’ wastefulness.
Sterling’s cool first-half opener made it 100 direct goal contributions in a City shirt for the England forward and he terrorised Rotherham’s defence before being replaced by Leroy Sane shortly after half-time.
Guardiola said afterwards that Sterling is capable of getting even better and that is a scary prospect for Premier League defences going into the second half of the season.