The hat-trick man Sergio Aguero was holding on to the matchball, which was a riot of messages daubed by his teammates in black marker pen. "Don't need to speak English to score goals," was Gäel Clichy's, signed with his squad number 22 appended. "You are deeeeecccccent," Joe Hart added and from Samir Nasri: "J'espere que c'est le debut d'une longue serie." ['I hope it's the first of many.']
From Carlos Tevez, the team-mate who really does speak Aguero's language, there was no ebullient message – just a signature and his number "32" – and within the recesses of the deposed captain's troubled mind there must be a sense that he is being eclipsed. Tevez's contribution was certainly not negligible on Saturday – the gorgeous, clipped ball which Micah Richards fired against Wigan's bar outweighed a scuffed penalty kick – but he is now a cog in a machine being oiled by David Silva, the Premier League's supreme player in the campaign to date.
Tevez's world also looks a far more complicated place than Aguero's. There's a new rigmarole where he brings his two daughters out onto the pitch before the game – a way of him saying that his separation from the girls really did lay behind his desire to leave Manchester this summer. The problem with having the kids on your hands is that there's no time to sort your boots out and the sight of Tevez hastily tying up a replacement pair, seconds before kick off, contrasted with the way Aguero smoothly went to work.
Aguero, who has six goals from four games for City, believes he can be the fulcrum to them ending a 44-year period without a title in the same way that his father-in-law Diego Maradona reinvigorated Napoli – City's opponents as their Champions League campaign begins on Wednesday. "Yes, I hope so," Aguero said. "I'm coming here to help the team develop and win titles." Maradona's duties managing Dubai side Al-Wasl means he will not be at the Etihad Stadium to see the two sides in which he has an interest.
Wigan's undistinguished performance makes Saturday's display no barometer of whether or not City are still "two yards" behind Manchester United as Roberto Mancini suggested they were on Friday. The fixture list suggests City might not be stretched domestically until their visit to Old Trafford on 23 October, but a genuine test arrives in the shape of Napoli – with their Slovakian Marek Hamsik and the Uruguayan Edinson Cavani, whom Mancini might have bought if he had not been quoted £40m this summer.
Mancini, who has Edin Dzeko fresh to face the Italians, clearly feels he has unfinished business in Europe's premier competition, his defeat to Liverpool with Internazionale in the 2008 quarter-finals spelling the end for him at San Siro. "I know what this means to the Manchester City fans, but it's also important for me," Mancini admitted. "I'm returning to the Champions League after three or four years." It was after the 1-0 home defeat at Rafael Benitez's hands that he announced his resignation and he seems to be entering this terrain with some trepidation.
"The Champions League is a different competition from the championship. If you lose a game in the domestic championship, you have time to recover," he said. "We're in the competition sooner than I thought we would be."
Aguero sounded more confident, even brushing away comparisons with Barcelona which Roberto Martinez had just raised. "We're thinking about ourselves really and trying to develop our own style of play," he said. Behind him, the figure of Tevez was visible, slipping quietly out of the stadium, perhaps wondering where he fits in.
Scorer: Manchester City Aguero 13, 63, 69
Substitutes: Manchester City Nasri 7 (Tevez, 61), Balotelli 6 (Aguero 70), Razak (Y Touré, 80).
Wigan Stam 6 (Boyce, 60), Crusat 6 (Watson, 70), Gomez 6 (Di Santo, 70).
Man of the match Silva
Match rating 7/10.
Possession: Manchester City 59% Wigan 41%.
Attempts on target: Manchester City 10 Wigan 5.
Referee M Atkinson (West Yorkshire)
Attendance 46,509.Reuse content