A loss would not exactly consign them to finishing second completely, but it would be hard to see them being able to overtake Manchester United for the top spot.
Too often, Premier League matches are given too much emphasis. Pundits will make predictions months in advance of things actually happening.
Just think back to the reactions after City's 6-1 win over United and United's 8-2 win over Arsenal.
However, this situation is a tad different. There may be 10 matches left in the league season, but time is running short.
Going down to Chelsea could really hurt the team morale and confidence levels, which aren't exactly sky high after a league loss to Swansea a week ago and crashing out of the Europa League.
It's imperative for City to pick up as many points as they can during the run to the end of the season.
If they defeat Chelsea, they'll have a lot of confidence going forward, but should they lose, it's only going to ratchet up the pressure to try and match United point-for-point. That's going to very hard when you consider the two clubs' respective upcoming futures.
City, on the other hand, face quite a difficult road for the next month or so. Following their midweek match with Chelsea, they're away to Stoke, home to Sunderland, away to Arsenal and home against West Brom.
Aside from the West Brom match, none of those matches are going to be easy an easy three points for Manchester City.
Despite the expectations at various points in the season, City could be looking at winning no silverware this year.
Should City struggle against Chelsea, the calls to bring on Carlos Tevez are only going to grow louder. This is a potential powder keg for the club.
The club was successful with him in the squad last year, but the 2010-11 Carlos Tevez is much different from the 2011-12 version.
Bringing in the Argentinian can either help City win the title or exacerbate City's downward spiral away from the title.
City may face off with United on April 30, but by then, the Premier League title race may be all but over.