The external post-mortem as to how Manchester City had lost the Premier League title began exactly one month ago today. It is worth remembering how much has changed inside four excruciatingly long weeks for supporters of both Manchester clubs. Then, following another City defeat – this time to Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium – a collective coming together happened inside what should probably have been, certainly judging by the subsequent reaction, a desolate dressing room.
Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany have been as pivotal certainly as Yaya Touré and his headline-grabbing goals in the dramatic turnaround, and the former, a player who was not quite written off at the start of the season, but was not expected to be this important, used a telling word to describe the desire that Roberto Mancini has inspired among his players.
Lescott, pictured right, admitted it would have been "criminal" if anyone there had, as was suggested, readied themselves to throw in the towel. Such a word felt important in the aftermath of such a crucial victory at Newcastle to explain where the kind of drive to overturn an eight-point deficit and a two-goal reverse in goal difference inside such a short space of time had come from.
"It would have been crazy to have given it up after the Arsenal game," Lescott said. "That would have been silly. There was no chance of that happening. No other word for it, it would have been criminal. I don't think there was any way that could happen because of the attitudes of the players. At this level of our careers we are not going to just give up when we get close to something like this. The lads I play with have a never-say-die attitude and it is there for all to see every week.
"It was more a case of hope back then [after the Arsenal result] because it was out of our hands. As the results started to favour us, the Wigan game and Everton, we started to believe, but back then it was out of our hands so all we could do was hope. We didn't believe in it, more hope, but it was a case that if they slipped up we had to capitalise on that. When I first arrived here [in August 2009] it was more hope that we could win the league, rather than real belief. We have developed and got a lot more players in and we are all starting to believe. It has been developing over a period of time."
Unity has fed the belief, and therein is perhaps Mancini's greatest achievement: making so many players care about each other so quickly.
"If we could close it out it would be unreal," added Lescott. "It will be crazy days if we win it."
Crazy, but not criminal.