still a case of quantity and not quality in some areas of the pitch
Whether it's part of his long-term strategy or simply a case of chance, Roberto Mancini now possesses an attack – Tevez or no Tevez – that can compete with the very best in Europe, save Barcelona.
Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero have brought with them some added culture, the sort that David Silva can now work with and the sort that can muster regular chances on which Edin Dzeko can feast.
The attitude remains, but there is now a certain swagger, led by Aguero and his classic black boots.
But the progression of their forward line has inadvertently led to questions surrounding their back line, which no longer has the benefit of last season’s defensive philosophy.
While Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov and the returning Kolo Toure may well be favourites in a touchline brawl, there is little chance of any of them being invited to join Mensa.
Vincent Kompany is and continues to be a valiant leader, and Kolo Toure remains one of the most agile defenders in the premier league.
However, there have been hints that City’s current defence might struggle to hold out under a sustained assault. No one across the line seems to exude calmness nor have an aptitude for ‘reading the game’.
That said, a sense of reality must be added to the argument
Their rivals across town have also looked vulnerable at the back, and while his recent performances have been a vast improvement, Joe Hart looks a far safer bet than David De Gea at the moment.
Still, Manchester United have been without their premier partnership since the first game of the season and there is no doubting that the return of club captain, Nemaja Vidic, will increase the likelihood of clean sheets several fold.
It might also be worth adding that United’s deputies in the absence of Vidic and Rio Ferdinand are young and bound to commit errors. Yet even after shipping three at home to lowly Basel, praise has been plentiful for the likes of Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
It is worth mentioning that Chelsea’s back line is also looking more assured. The rejuvenated Jose Boswinga and flamboyant David Luiz, working well, in tandem with stalwart John Terry and the wholesome Ashley Cole.
What makes City’s inadequacies most glaring is that they, more than anyone, have the resources to address them and address them more thoroughly than just the token addition of Gael Clichy.
It has taken Roberto Mancini nearly two years to finalise his attack. Will it take him another two to upgrade his defence?