Bolton striker Kevin Davies has branded Manchester City's conduct as "embarrassing" and written them off as potential Barclays Premier League title winners.
The Blues moved just three points off top spot with their weekend win over the Trotters at Eastlands.
Carlos Tevez's early goal did the damage, although the Argentinian's petulant reaction to being substituted late in the game was an even bigger discussion point.
Davies is not convinced that gave off the correct signals and he was even less impressed at so many of the City players collapsing in mock agony during a keenly-fought duel.
"When there is not much contact and they go down screaming, it is embarrassing from a man's point of view," Davies told the Manchester Evening News.
"There are a lot of European players in their squad and I think it is something they are taught on the continent.
"It is frustrating and embarrassing at times. However, it is part of our game unfortunately."
Davies ultimately decided to apologise for the remarks he delivered about City on his Twitter account, claiming it was not "my place to comment".
Nevertheless, an honest professional's opinion was rather insightful.
"If you have a problem it is best to sort out behind closed doors rather than make an issue in front of millions," he said of Tevez's angry response to being replaced by James Milner a minute from time.
"Seeing Tevez's reaction to being subbed assures me there is (sic) problems within at City, great players individually but as a team??"
The proof will be delivered in results, with City realising a quirky fixture list, that pits Manchester United against Arsenal next weekend, Chelsea the weekend after and Arsenal into combat with Chelsea on December 27 has cleared a path towards the summit of English football.
For a side with vast wealth, and resources to spend in January should manager Roberto Mancini decide it is required, it is an opportunity that should not be squandered.
Joleon Lescott is adamant the Blues will not become mired in off-field problems, dismissing Friday's punch-up between Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng at a stroke.
"They are pals," said the England defender.
"It is just the way they wanted to win in training.
"I can't remember the way it started and obviously it wasn't going someone's way.
"They were talking straight afterwards. They sit together at lunch and dinner so there is no ill-feeling between the two of them.
"That kind of thing has happened at every club I have been at. It is no surprise to anyone.
"But the media tend to make it bigger than it is and the way things are at this club at the moment, people perceive things that are not happening."Reuse content