It was mission well and truly accomplished at the Reebok Stadium as City secured third place and automatic entry into the group stages of the Champions League.
City’s move into previously uncharted waters came courtesy of a win that was ultimately a comfortable one after several missed chances in the first half had set the nerve-ends jangling.
Joleon Lescott calmed things down with a headed goal not long before the break, and then Edin Dzeko pounced just minutes after coming on as a second-half replacement for Adam Johnson. All City had to was stay ahead of Arsenal, and that they did to the gleeful acclaim of the 4,000 fans that had made the short trip up the M61.
Carlos Tevez had an early shot blocked by Knight, but after that it was the home side that had the better opportunities, although some of the close calls were of City’s own making. Joe Hart underlined the justice of his recent Golden Gloves award by denying Sturridge then Elmander in quick succession, first with his feet then with hands away to his left. However, he nearly undid that good work by dropping a high ball, then striking a clearance straight at Bolton’s Swedish midfielder – but thankfully the ball looped away to safety.
Fine work from Boyata down the right then set up Gareth Barry for a perfect scoring opportunity – which he spurned, unbelievably heading against the bar from point-blank range when it looked easier to score. City continued to fluff their lines, with Johnson scooping a left-footed shot well over the bar before Toure, Tevez and Silva had efforts blocked.
Thankfully the misses did not matter, with Joleon Lescott finding the net for the second game in a row. He did not know a lot about it, a corner seemingly heading for Kompany striking him on the side of the head.
No-one was too bothered how it came about, and everyone connected with the Blues was relieved to see the ball loop into the top corner.
So City were firmly ahead of Arsenal in the race for third, and Edin Dzeko tightened the grip even further just minutes after coming on for Adam Johnson. Gary Cahill looked to have stopped the Bosnian from getting a shot in, but the Bosnian was alert enough to spin round and slam the ball home for his second Premier League goal.
The last rites of a superb season saw Danny Sturridge sent off for a studs-up challenge on Dzeko, and Reece Wabara brought on for his first team debut. Roberto Mancini joined his players on the pitch after Chris Foy had blown the final whistle to milk the applause, thoroughly deserved after such a wonderful end to a memorable season.