Manchester City have made the best of this transfer window. Big money moves for Fernandinho, Jesus Navas, Alvaro Negredo, and Stevan Jovetic all but guarantee a much more effective attack this coming season.
With that in mind, let's consider some of the tactical options available to "the Engineer" on his quest for five trophies in five years...
This 4-2-3-1 lineup showcases Manchester City's physical advantage.
A midfield consisting of Fernandinho and James Milner behind a free roaming Yaya Toure ought to break up any slowly building offense, just like Brazil in the Confederations Cup or Bayern Munich in Europe.
In attack, it's all about speed and the ability to hit hard on the counter. Jesus Navas is faster than anyone at City and has made a career out of shuttling the ball down the touch line and sending in accurate crosses. With Sergio Aguero and him on the wings, the aerial specialist Alvaro Negredo should have a field day.
This formation roughly matches the Barca-preferred 4-3-3—the same formation Pep Guardiola used today with Bayern Munich in the friendly match against his old club.
This lineup would operate with Fernandinho as midfield anchor, David Silva playing the Xavi role of deep distributor and Yaya Toure playing a shuttling box to box role.
Ahead of them, the City attackers best suited for a short passing possession game would feature Stevan Jovetic on the left and Samir Nasri on the right, with Sergio Aguero as a false 9.
This lineup packs about as much passing and dribbling skill as City have into one starting XI, and has the benefit of offering ample opportunity for swapping among the top three.
A 3-5-2 would certainly be unorthodox in the EPL, but Manchester City does have the squad for it.
The key here is Pablo Zabaleta and Aleksandar Kolarov. Having players on the wings who can be trusted to put in a proper defensive shift is essential, and they are two such players.
David Silva is City's best central midfield distributor, but also still has the ability to play a more attacking role. This formation, with two true box-to-box midfielders at his side, allows him to position himself wherever he'd like.
Stevan Jovetic also really allows this formation to work, as he is one of the few forwards who can shine with a partner. His positioning and eye for the pass can be put to great use here.
Finally, giants still have to play early cup games against smaller squads from Eastern Europe and the lower divisions of English football. Rather than send star players to run out against minnows, every manager needs a cup-ready backup.
This 4-4-1-1 is made up of players not yet mentioned, with the exceptions of Samir Nasri and captain Vincent Kompany. Against much weaker opposition, Manuel Pellegrini should be able to trust the likes of Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and Javi Garcia, right?
Tactical diagrams made using Outside of the Boot's Tactics Creator