A well struck first have shot by Balotelli from about 25 yards and a well worked second half breakaway goal neatly finished by Damien Duff from a cross by Andy Johnson were the only real highlights of a dire game.
The lack of a spark, of passion was another worrying aspect of a very ordinary performance and one that suggests some of the squad players don't know the difference between a training game and the real thing.
Carlos Tevez seemed tired and was unable to lead a forward line including Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko into any decent positions, and a marginal improvement was seen once Dzeko left the field and Tevez played further forward.
But it was still poor with bits of football played by both teams and City far from able to show where the money had been spent.
The introduction of Patrick Vieira did improve things a little, but many players showed no real passion or urgency, and at times, it was hard to watch.
The worst culprit was the left full back Alexander Kolarov, who may find his stay at City shorter than expected as he again provided little or no value as a footballer.
Slow to react, out of position and wasteful with the ball at his feet, Kolarov seems destined for the exit in the summer, especially as the noises from City suggest a renewed bid for Dani Alves from Barcelona.
City were without David Silva, Nigel De Jong, Vincent Kompany and Adam Johnson, so there are reasons for the chosen 11 not being representative of the real City. But on today's showing, the likes of Kolarov, Jerome Boateng, Yaya Toure and Balotelli (who scored a great goal but did very little else) need to understand that every game matters, and as such, a lack of effort does not go well.
City also desperately need someone with real pace, and so expect manager Roberto Mancini to enter the transfer market in the summer.
Until then though, the current City squad may just hold on and make it into the Champions League places, but it won't be anywhere near as easy as it should be if they put the effort in games such as this.