This was supposed to be the game to wipe away any lingering somnolence after the midweek draw with United.
A glance at the league table long before Birmingham even set off from the Midlands should have been enough to put an extra beat into the heart of City fans and quickness in the step of any Manchester Blue on the way to the City of Manchester Stadium.
But the waves of expectation crashed and evaporated on the twin rocks of a stubborn Birmingham defence and bad luck in front of goal.
Roberto Mancini’s men dominated possession and chances but couldn’t find the breakthrough and for the second time in four days had to settle for a goalless ninety minutes in front of their own fans.
Extra points are not, and never have been, handed out to anyone for style or entertainment and patience is a virtue at any level and in that light fourth place is a decent enough platform.
Indeed, there was no hint any defensive mindset from the men in sky blue as Roberto Mancini tweaked the side that worked hard for little reward in the goalless derby. In came Aleksandar Kolarov and Adam Johnson and out went Pablo Zabaleta and Gareth Barry.
An unfettered home side attacked with brio and gusto as if hurt by the unjust criticism that flowed after they moved four points clear of fifth place in table.
There was some silky movement and predatory intent on display after the moving solemnity of the Remembrance Day ceremony that preceded the contest.
The home side was always in command and Tevez had the ball in the net in the 39th minute but the officials ruled that he used his arm in converting the chance. The Blues skipper argued the decision to the point where he was booked.
Manchester fashioned a brilliant chance a minute into the second half but James Milner who saw Foster half block his first effort and then Stephen Carr perform near miracles to get the midfielder’s second bite at the cherry off the line. It was a captain’s effort indeed.
Skipper Tevez was inches wide in the 68th minute as the tide kept on flowing towards the visitors’ goal. The respites for McLeish’s troops were short-lived, only extended by interminable substitutions designed to give a breather as much as to elicit some tactical advantage.
Joe Hart safely pouched Keith Fahey’s long range effort which was as close as the Midlands team got. It was greeted with shouts of ‘England’s number two’ from the Birmingham fans who so loved him last season. Hart just smiled at them.
Clock manipulation was on Birmingham minds for the last half hour – some would call it time-wasting – they came for a point and were determined to cling on to that reward and they did so.
Tevez was taken off to a chorus of booing from home fans who couldn’t understand the change and the pattern remained attack versus defence. The best late chance fell to de Jong whose curling effort was plucked out of the top corner by Foster.
It was that kind of afternoon.