They were "Doing the Poznan" at Manchester City last night, dancing with their backs to goal, watching their team streaming forward. Carlos Tevez started and scored, David Silva, a ghost of the player who had propelled City through the first few months of the season hit a perfect chip on the run for the fourth goal. Manchester United were losing at Wigan and it was as if the last few disastrous weeks had never been.
The gap on the final whistle was still daunting – they will have to pull back a point a game but those who remained for the result from the DW Stadium left wreathed in smiles.
There was room for belief that perhaps Roberto Mancini might have delivered his concession speech a little early. They are not dead yet. The wake that most had anticipated will have to be postponed.
Sport, like history, likes a question that begins "what if?" What if Carlos Tevez's response to Mancini when asked to warm up in Munich had been: "Yes boss," rather than something altogether earthier. Would the title be probability rather than a tantalising fantasy?
In his first start since that September night he scored, admittedly when West Brom were already starting to slide on to the canvas and, when he was taken off shortly afterwards, it was to a standing ovation. His manager was rather more restrained.
The mood at Eastlands was subdued until news came through of Wigan's opening goal when suddenly it seemed like the last few weeks had never been. Mancini still has the support of the crowd and he responded to chants of his name by applauding them. How the players feel about him must await their return to Argentina, Spain and France and the various interviews they conduct there.
When Manchester City paid Atletico Madrid £38m for Sergio Aguero, the great question was how he would combine with his fellow Argentine. Nobody could have imagined that until last night they would have started one game together, a 3-0 win over Wigan here in September.
This looked as if it would be almost as straightforward, certainly Aguero revelled in the night. Half-a-dozen minutes into the match, he took hold of the ball, drove forward and struck his shot into the corner of Ben Foster's net. His second, shortly after the restart, was even simpler, a pass from Samir Nasri that he slid past the West Brom goalkeeper.
From the beginning, Tevez began to discover the flicks and turns that had been such a feature of last season. His goal was pure simplicity – a pass from Nasri, pulled back by Aguero and converted by Tevez.Reuse content