Manchester City declare Premier League intentions with easy win over Liverpool
Manchester City 3 Liverpool 0: Manchester City have delivered a clear statement of intent to their Premier League rivals by producing the club's biggest beating of Liverpool since 1937.
Owner Sheikh Mansour could not have picked a better night to watch the team he has spent £1billion on in a Premier League game for the first time.
With James Milner enjoying an outstanding debut, City were far too good at Eastlands for a visiting Liverpool side who have a week to get themselves into some sort of shape given Javier Mascherano's absence seems like the next step in a big-money move to Barcelona.
Milner set up Gareth Barry for City's opener before Carlos Tevez claimed to have got a touch to Micah Richards' goalbound header just after half-time.
A brilliant double save from Joe Hart snuffed out any chance of a revival before Tevez sent Pepe Reina the wrong way from the spot after Martin Skrtel had fouled Adam Johnson.
It capped a performance that proves City have the credentials and the talent to win the biggest prize they can this season, if manager Roberto Mancini can keep his vast squad happy.
Had he so wished, Manchester City's immensely rich owner could have had his pre-match meal at the new 'City Square' on Joe Mercer Way, part of the £20million stadium revamp that has taken place since he took control from the discredited former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
Rather more costly were the players he has helped assemble.
Nine of them were part of Roberto Mancini's starting line-up - Richards and Hart the two exceptions - a sign of the revolution that has taken place in the past two years.
Long-standing City fans are still pinching themselves at having the opportunity to watch the likes of Yaya Toure and Tevez.
But down the years, they have taken a huge amount of pride in their academy, which has produced so many first-team players, Richards among them.
The level City are operating at now means continuing that work is going to be tough. Instead, pleasure has to be derived in different ways.
So to have the stamp "Made in England" embossed on their first Premier League goal of the season was an achievement to be noted.
That the goal came about because of a momentary failure from Steven Gerrard just brought added poignancy.
Johnson spotted Milner advancing just beyond the Liverpool skipper and found him with a smart pass.
Milner delivered the perfect cut-back into an area he hoped a team-mate had filled.
Barry obliged and did the business from 10 yards with a neat side-footed finish.
It was the high point of a one-sided first-half.
Tevez and Johnson both found the side-netting from an acute angle. Johnson had earlier driven a fierce shot wide and Milner's running was intelligent and incisive.
Liverpool could certainly not have complained if they had been further adrift.
Roy Hodgson's men struggled to retain any source of possession, which just confirmed the gaping hole Mascherano will leave should he get his wish to start another phase of his career away from Anfield.
Liverpool appear too deficient in too many areas for Hodgson to waste much time persuading someone intent on leaving that his future remains on Merseyside.
In a meagre first-half, the visitors created just a single chance, which the returning Fernando Torres set up for Gerrard, who wasted it.
The only time Liverpool got any nearer after half-time was in the flurry of activity that followed Gerrard's explosive free-kick that thudded against the post.
Hart was beaten on that occasion but not when David Ngog had a go.
England's new number one palmed that away, straight into Torres' path. It seemed a certain goal but Hart stood firm again, repelling the Spain striker with a magnificent save with his left hand.
That this all came after a second City goal, which Tevez claimed even though any touch to a Richards header from Milner's corner was so faint as to render it impossible to spot.
Reina could not keep it out anyway.
Nor did the goalkeeper do any better when Tevez sent him the wrong way from the spot after Johnson had been fouled by Skrtel.
All summer, the football talk around these two clubs has centred around breaking into that top four.
On this evidence, only City are capable of that. And, thanks to Sheikh Mansour's largesse, they are capable of much more besides too.