Gareth Barry believes Manchester City must be prepared to win ugly at Wigan.
After steamrollering their way through the first half of the domestic campaign, City have suddenly encountered their first major hurdle. One win in five games includes an FA Cup exit to Manchester United last week and a home defeat in their Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Liverpool.
"This is the time when people will really be watching us, to see how we respond to this sticky patch," said England midfielder Barry.
The consolation is that neither of those results has had any effect on City's league title hopes, and victory at the DW Stadium will put them three points clear of United once more.
But, with injuries, suspensions and international calls biting deep into their squad, City must roll up their sleeves and counter anything rock-bottom Wigan hit them with.
Barry added: "If it means going there, not playing great football and battling to get a victory, we might have to do that.
"You can't dominate the whole league playing fantastic football and winning every game easily. Sometimes you have to battle and scrape a result in the last minute.
"Wigan is set up for that sort of game. Everyone in the dressing room has to roll up their sleeves and be ready to do it."
With Vincent Kompany serving the second game of his four-match ban and Yaya Toure away at the African Nations Cup, Montenegro defender Stefan Savic is set to continue in central defence.
Mancini could opt to play stand-in skipper Micah Richards alongside Joleon Lescott, with Pablo Zabaleta at right-back.