Sheikh Mansour's takeover of City in 2008 sparked a reduction in the gap between the two sides, but it wasn’t until City’s 2011 FA Cup semi-final win over United that it felt they were becoming a force.
Since that day, City have been more successful. They are often the favourites to beat United when the two sides play—unthinkable just a few years ago. During the '90s and early '00s, United would start every derby as firm favourites, and more often than not, the form book played out.
The two sides meet again on Sunday in the 171st Manchester derby with both struggling for consistency. United are widely seen as having a disastrous season, yet they are just four points behind City in the Premier League table. There’s a race on for the top four. And City, favourites for the title after the first few weeks of the season, aren’t guaranteed Champions League football in 2016-17.
Sunday’s game at the Etihad Stadium may not rival some of the recent encounters in terms of importance, but there’s still plenty riding on it.
The FA Cup semi-final at Wembley in 2011 saw the changing of the guard; the 1-0 win City achieved a year later in the Premier League put them in the driving seat for their first title in 44 years. The magnitude of those occasions will seldom be matched, but Sunday's encounter certainly carries its own significance. If there is a victor, it would be a disaster for whichever team loses.
Manuel Pellegrini will leave City at the end of the season and will want to go out on a positive note. A strong league finish and further progress in the Champions League would help lift some of the gloom that has descended because of their poor league campaign.
United need a top-four finish and, perhaps, an FA Cup win to salvage something from their season.
It’s not what either was expecting back in August.
Here we take a look back at some of the best City goals against United over the past 15 years.
The goals here are ranked purely on technical ability. The importance of the goal was disregarded.