Thirty-six fixtures have passed, and yet the battle for the last Champions League berth is tighter than ever. The sky blue faithful await Wednesday's clash with Tottenham Hotspur at Eastlands with restless anticipation, as only one point separates these two clubs.
Widely considered the equivalent of a Cup final, this match puts Manchester City at the threshold of greatness, and no team is more desperate to begin rewriting its history.
Often dismissed by archrivals Manchester United, the Citizens have, in recent years, yearned to recreate their own identity. The last decade has seen the club in a constant battle with mediocrity, during which the team suffered relegation ('01-'02), numerous managerial changes, and a disgraced ownership in Thaksin Shinawatra.
Couple that with the humiliating reminder of City's lackluster trophy cabinet draped across Old Trafford's Stretford End, and one might begin to see the nearly inevitable plight of this team.
After a hot start following the mega spending of 2009's summer transfer window, City's scoring went cold, and the defense failed to find solid footing. A streak of seven straight draws led to a public and questionable sacking of Mark Hughes in December.
Very quickly, it seemed the club would crumble and succumb to its historic propensity. However, the leaders of this team—in the forms of Carlos Tevez, Shay Given, and Patrick Vieira (of late)—refused to be eliminated and took the club's future upon their shoulders.
Despite the controversy and laughable gaffs that have plagued City (see Robinho), one thing has remained firm in this 2009-10 squad: steadfast resolve.
Tevez has emerged as a top-class striker whose timely goals have proven decisive on numerous occasions. Vieira's veteran venerability significantly repaired the defense and instilled a "bend but not break" mentality, and Given is every ounce the leader of this team.
Each of these pillars has provided the fortitude which enables Manchester City to keep within striking distance of the Champions League.
Wednesday's matchup against Tottenham is the culmination of this year's campaign, and it is perhaps the biggest game this team has seen in nearly three decades. It seems appropriate that one match—one which will require tenacity, resilience, and perseverance—will likely be the deciding factor for the fate of this inconsistent club.
A victory at Eastlands begins a new chapter for Manchester City. Entering the Champions League for the first time, shaking up the "Big 4," and challenging rival Manchester United for bragging rights over the city is a fine way to enter the summer break.
With the convincing win over Aston Villa, the Citizens are poised for success.
Wednesday evening marks the turning point for the blue side of Manchester.