Manchester City takes on reigning Champions League holders Bayern Munich on Thursday evening in the 2013 Audi Cup final.
The new-look Premier League outfit could hardly have hoped for a better opportunity to make an early statement.
City's newly installed boss, Manuel Pellegrini, knows there is little at stake.
However, from a psychological standpoint, he will not want to miss a chance to get one over a club they will hope to rival in Europe this season.
Their excursions in last week’s Barclays Asia Trophy were relatively standard preseason fare—this despite playing Premier League opposition in one match (a rarity) and having to deal with torrential rain in both of their outings.
Touring Hong Kong was as much about developing the club’s brand as it was the team’s fitness.
City's participation in the Audi Cup is certainly similar in that sense. However, with the season that much closer, the stakes have been upped somewhat.
While Milan were a couple of weeks behind in their preparation, City going five-nil up on them was a remarkable declaration of intent.
Pellegrini fielded a strong side that featured new signings Fernandinho, Jesus Navas and Stevan Jovetic.
Demonstrating the squad’s existing strength, their goals came from four players from or predating the Roberto Mancini era.
Results and performances from preseason should be examined with caution, too. Even here, City eased off and conceded three after they had scored five.
Even so, the manner in which they blew away Milan was impressive. It was dominant, and displayed some of the style and attractiveness that Pellegrini promised upon his appointment, according to BBC Sport.
Doing both in the Premier League is paramount. However, after successive group stage exits in the Champions League, City will be desperate to show progress in Europe.
Bayern, under Pep Guardiola, will be a different beast to that which enjoyed such success with Jupp Heynckes last season.
Their dismantling in the German Super Cup against old foes Borussia Dortmund hinted at understandable teething issues in their own refashioning. Yet, even in that loss, signs of the previous brilliance remained.
With a win over Bayern, Man City can begin to prove to themselves and others that they are a force to be reckoned with beyond the British Isles.
All that is needed, then, is the small matter of backing that optimism up.
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