City are just three points behind Manchester United with a mouth-watering derby in store at the Etihad Stadium after goals from Sergio Aguero and Samir Nasri ensured victory over Wolves.
The side representing the proud old Midlands club put up a brave fight, but an efficient performance from the Blues ensured the win that perfectly sets up the game on 30 April.
Everton’s stirring comeback at Old Trafford earlier in the day gave City an even greater incentive, knowing that a win at Molineux would narrow the gap with the derby to come and superior goal difference over United also in hand.
There was just the one change from the starting eleven that had swept Norwich aside, with Yaya Toure replacing Nigel de Jong to give the Blues even more of an attacking edge. A minor strain kept Micah Richards out of the reckoning, but the news was that he was likely to be available for derby eight days later.
City knew they had to pull out all the stops, and Carlos Tevez gave Wolves a taste of what to expect within seconds of the start, rifling a shot over from a similar position to his opener at Carrow Road.
The hosts served notice they would not lie down with relegation hanging over them like the thunder clouds that skirted around their home ground before the start. A succession of early corners kept City honest, and Joe Hart had to push away a fierce drive from Davis.
Sergio Aguero spurned a succession of chances as the half wore on, but the Argentinean settled the nerves with his 22nd Premier League strike after 27 minutes. Gael Clichy took the ball in his own half, before delivering an exquisite pass that split the defence. Aguero collected and slipped slightly, but he had so much space that he could recover to stab it past De Vries and settle the nerves.
Maybe City felt that more goals would come as easily as against Norwich, but it proved to be nothing of the sort as Wolves put up a real fight, especially early after half time.
Hart was equal to a testing header from Fletcher, diving to his right to palm the ball away at the end of a spell where City struggled to get out of their own half. With eyes on securing three points first and foremost, Roberto Mancini paid the efforts of the home side a real compliment by replacing David Silva with Nigel de Jong with half an hour still to play.
The move allowed Yaya Toure to drive further forward, and this put City’s foot back on the gas, leading to the goal that sealed the game.
Tevez was wrestled to the ground near halfway, but while Wolves dawdled he took the free kick quickly, receiving the ball back straight away from Clichy. With old gold shirts struggling to keep pace with sky blue, the former skipper found Samir Nasri, who had the time to take one touch before burying the ball past De Vries.
With the Black Country club now resigned to life in the Championship, City dominated the rest of the game but a golden chance to extend the lead – and the potentially all-important goal difference – was wasted by Sergio Aguero. Put free with just De Vries to beat, he delayed and was dispossessed, and the sight of Roberto Mancini’s displeasure underlined the high standards that will still be needed in every remaining second of the season.