Fancy dress, fancy football, fancy that! 2013 kicked off in Champagne style at the Etihad Stadium.
A full house for the first home game of the New Year was treated to flashes of the vibrant and brilliant Manchester City that enjoyed such a stellar 2012.
This was a Blues side with purpose in its stride and intent in its attacks as they pounded the Potters goal from first to last.
Stoke didn’t manage an attempt on goal in the opening half though their stubborn resistance did last until the 42nd minute before Pablo Zabaleta eased home the opener after Asmir Begovic parried James Milner’s low shot.
To be fair to the aforementioned Begovic he had been the main man before the opening goal; three times he denied Aguero, the best save of the lot coming high to his right. Aguero also narrowly shot over the bar after a sumptuous Gareth Barry pass as the classy midfielder continued where he left off against Norwich.
Although clearly second best here, Stoke can be awkward opponents, more so on their own ground, but they are not over-generous on their travels having kept three clean sheets in a row and held in-form Tottenham scoreless on their last trip away from the Britannia Stadium.
Robust and resourceful, Stoke are a side that had become the model for low to middle income sides making a success of life in the Premier League and they should be applauded for their longevity and competitiveness in the top flight.
The fact that, like Sam Allardyce’s Bolton before them, they are sometimes condemned for their style of play should be of no consequence. The football world would be a boring and predictable place indeed if every team adopted the same approach to each contest.
Even so the Blues went into this contest having beaten Stoke in all four previous Premier League meetings at home, scoring a combined 11 and conceding none. There was seldom any danger of those stats being damaged.
Mancini began his reign as manager with a 2-0 home win over the Potters on Boxing Day 2009.
City had also won all four of their previous New Year's Day Premier League fixtures at home so the omens were more than a little favourable.
Having delighted in attack in the 4-3 win at Norwich – where set pieces proved an end of year Achilles heel – few people expected many changes to the line-up other than the enforced one as Samir Nasri began a three-match ban for a bout of head-rubbing.
The manager saw fit to replace Nasri with James Milner and Joleon Lescott returned in place of Matija Nastasic. Dzeko’s quick fire brace and an improved contribution from Aguero earned the pair the nod up front.
But this was a performance with no weaknesses. In his final Premier League game before heading for South Africa and the Cup of Nations, Yaya Toure was at the Blues hub and produced one of the passes of the match in the 49th minute that enticed a wonderful Dzeko volley from the edge of the box that beat Begovic but didn’t dip quickly enough and cleared the bar.
The Bosnian didn’t have long to wait to add to his tally however tapping in from close range after Begovic again couldn’t hold a shot this time from Aguero and when, in the 74th minute, Steven N’Zonzi was adjudged to have tripped David Silva in the box (it was a marginal decision) Aguero made the points safe from the spot.
It was the best possible start to 2013.