If ever proof were needed that City are now the prized scalp in the Premier League then this encounter provided it all.
Albion celebrated a goalless home game as if they had qualified for the Champions League.
There are quieter places to have to visit on Boxing Day than a full throttle Hawthorns buoyed by seeing its side fly clear of the bottom three on the back of two successive wins.
Everyone from Baggies to Black Cats, Canaries to Toffees and Reds of all persuasion currently wants to shoot down a Blues side that has been imperious in the first half of the season.
Such enmity goes with the territory in the rarefied air at the summit. All and sundry have a vested interest - as well as a visceral one - in knocking the leaders off the precipice.
And so it was that wily Roy Hodgson set up the home team not to lose and his reward was a heroic rearguard action that earned Albion a point and the distinction of being the first English side to prevent the Blues scoring this season.
City’s lead over United at the top is now down to no points and five goals – coincidently the number that separated the two sides when they met at Old Trafford! Despite being odds-on favourites in the bookmakers’ eyes to win a first top flight title in four and bit decades, City cannot yet afford even one more off day if they are to succeed where so many have failed.
Roberto Mancini’s squad rotation has to remain as perfect as it has done so far and the avalanche of goals that has buried rivals in the opening half of the season has to continue to roll towards the chasing pack with menace attached to it.
Pablo Zabaleta came in for the still sore Micah Richards, Adam Johnson’s goal heroics against Stoke failed to earn him a berth and there were recalls for James Milner and Kolo Toure as Mancini made four changes from the side that beat Stoke.
City didn’t threaten until the 23rd minute when Vincent Kompany’s raking pass picked out Sergio Aguero on the left. He slotted the ball into the box where Silva had timed his run to perfection but then fired over the bar from eight yards.
Balotelli’s free kick deflected off the wall and dribbled a yard wide to set up a hat-trick of corners but it was all huff and puff with Ben Foster not forced into meaningful action. Unlike Joe Hart who had to get down low to keep out Brunt’s long range shot when Albion briefly got out of their own half.
The whole game lacked an edge and a yard of pace but things livened up after the break once Balotelli had spurned any kind of back lift and surprised Foster with a 25-yard angled drive that rattled the bar.
Aguero was stopped by a last ditch Shorey tackle but West Brom came even closer when Jerome Thomas thumped a drive against the base of Joe Hart’s right-hand post.
City threw everything, including three substitutes, at the Baggies but having played for a draw at home they weren’t for buckling and held on for a point.