In seasons gone by, previous Manchester City teams might have found a way to squander a match like this against less talented but determined opposition with a point to prove. City might have lost their nerve and folded, or simply never believed they were good enough to see it out anyway. Yesterday, however, Roberto Mancini's team did something different.
They wobbled at times, and the two goals they conceded made Mancini berate his team's "stupid" defending, but when it mattered in the final minutes of pressure from Bolton Wanderers, when backs were up against the wall and the stoppage-time board went up, City held on. Their reward is that this morning they wake up as the club at the top of the Premier League, able to say to their old enemy, Manchester United: over to you.
United need to win tonight against Tottenham to keep pace with City and Wolves, who are the only two sides so far to have won both their opening matches. Yesterday was a memorable game, in which Bolton doggedly refused to give up, and in which City held their nerve when Owen Coyle's team scored twice and made life uncomfortable.
These are early days yet for City and, with the arrival of Samir Nasri imminent this week, there are more famous international names to accommodate in the squad. But so far, so good for Mancini. If Monday's 4-0 drubbing of Swansea City was the opening-day flourish, yesterday demonstrated other qualities that a team with pretensions of winning the league must have. With Edin Dzeko sparkling yesterday and David Silva orchestrating the best City had to offer, they looked far removed from the team often placed in an attacking straitjacket by their manager.
As for Bolton, they were first undone by a bad mistake from Jussi Jaaskelainen, who was bamboozled by a shot from David Silva on 26 minutes. But Bolton twice came back into the match at 2-0 and 3-1 down with well-worked goals that asked questions of City's defence.
Before Wanderers scored their first, there was a second for City, driven in from the edge of the area by Gareth Barry's trusty left peg. Having dominated much of the first half, City gave themselves another two-goal lead within two minutes of the re-start. This time Dzeko got control of an unpromising high ball, charged at goal and finished emphatically.Reuse content