Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini believes Carlos Tevez will reap the benefits of his first full pre-season in five years after his stunning goal helped lift the Community Shield.
Tevez scored the second goal in City's 3-2 triumph over Chelsea at Villa Park yesterday with Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri also on target for the Barclays Premier League champions.
The Argentinian looked hungry and sharp - in contrast to his six month exile last season before returning to play a key role in the run-in to the title.
Mancini said: "I am very happy because this year Carlos has worked very well in pre-season and his form is better than last year. Also this year he wants to play football.
"For a player, it is difficult when he does not play. Last season he did not play for six months and this is difficult.
"I expect him to be a very important player. He is a top player if he wants to play.
"Last year we had Carlos for the last 10 games and it was important because he scored five or six goals.
"But he was not 100%. This year is the first time in four, maybe five years he has done a full pre-season and for every player this is important."
Mancini admitted the sending off of Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic just before half-time, for a lunging challenge on Aleksandar Kolarov, was pivotal to the game's outcome.
He said: "It was a good performance. When Chelsea were leading 1-0, we played better.
"It is an advantage to play with an extra player. It had an impact on the game. It is impossible to say no because 11 versus 11 is different to 11 versus 10.
"But we played better than Chelsea, played better football."
Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo agreed with Mancini's assessment of the red card but insists there was no malicious intent from Ivanovic.
He said: "It probably changed the game in favour of City. We competed very well up to that point and were in the lead.
"We knew it would be difficult in the second half with 10 against 11. I watched it and I thought there was no intention from our player to hurt the opposition.
"It was a sliding challenge. He got him (Kolarov) and got the ball as well. Sometimes the red card is given, sometimes not, but there was no intention from our player to do any harm to the opposition."
Di Matteo still believes City will be favourites to retain their crown this season.
He said: "Absolutely. They're the champions. We have to catch up 25 points from last season. They are the favourites, no doubt about it, and United will be chasing City as well.
"They've kept the squad together, a strong squad. I'm not sure if they'll make more signings, but they're a strong team."
Fernando Torres gave Chelsea the lead but then City struck three times in 12 minutes before Ryan Bertrand reduced the arrears.