Vincent Kompany sure Pep Guardiola's Manchester City will strike back
The last time Vincent Kompany started a league game for Manchester City was in April; a 1-1 draw with Newcastle that signified a season that was petering out.
The captain's return to the starting line-up on Sunday - after yet another injury absence - also finished with more dropped points. After the cavalcade of victories that marked Pep Guardiola's arrival, Southampton became the fifth successive side to avoid defeat against City.
Those results may not be on the scale of the meltdown that is engulfing Manchester United, but tomorrow's meeting in the EFL Cup will be between two uneasy teams.
Unlike Jose Mourinho, who remarked that the re-branded League Cup - which he won twice at Chelsea - is the least of United's priorities, Kompany is not playing things down.
"It is just physically impossible for me to play down a derby," Kompany said. "The more they say it is the fourth competition, the better it is for us."
However, Kompany concedes that the pace of City's advance has slowed fast. Between August 28 and September 17, City produced four displays that were peak Pep. West Ham, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bournemouth were beaten at the Etihad by a collective score of 11-1.
At Old Trafford, the longed-for first meeting of Mourinho and Guardiola proved a humbling experience for the United manager.
Since then, however, there are signs that teams are beginning to work out how to stem the midfield tide that is the key to Guardiola's strategy. At Parkhead they were harried by Celtic in the Champions League, while Southampton's defence so restricted City's forwards that the first half passed without a shot on target.
However, Kompany is far from convinced that this will be a long-term weakness.
"Since I was a six-year-old player, winning was always a must," Kompany said. "But with experience you learn it is more important to do the right things.
"We have had worse periods than this but when it is not going 100 per cent your way you need to stick to some basics that are going to bring you back up.
"We have to carry on, we have to apply ourselves and, eventually, I think we will get a bit more luck. At the moment it just seems not to fall on the right side of the edge for us. I do think in time it will.
"We are still on the right track but we have to be conscious of the fact that we cannot keep wasting points."