Mathematically, it’s Liverpool’s title to lose after a thrilling, chaotic but ultimately fruitless afternoon for City on Merseyside.
Despite the 3-2 scoreline and the seven point gap that now exists between the teams, the Blues did at least provide compelling evidence that they won't give up the fight.
City walked through a first-half Liverpool storm unable to stop the home side from running into a two-goal lead, though they weren’t helped by the forced withdrawal of their top Premier League goalscorer Yaya Toure after a quarter of an hour.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men produced a spectacular second half fightback to level things up courtesy of a David Silva strike and a Glen Johnson own goal and to surely take the initiative in this season’s ever-fluctuating title race.
However, Phillipe Coutinho wrapped his foot around a misplaced clearance to complete the scoring and cement Liverpool’s status as favourites for the league.
Any football played at Anfield on the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster was certain to undermine events on the pitch and render them somewhat trivial by comparison, but perhaps it was fitting that a game of this magnitude was marking it, featuring a home side rekindling echoes of their silver-embroidered past.
Away supporters displayed a huge banner to show their solidarity with those who lost their lives on that tragic day when 96 Liverpool supporters went to a football match and never returned home.
A minute’s silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters in the lead up to kick-off and City legends Mike Summerbee, Joe Corrigan and Tony Book presented a wreath of remembrance to Kenny Dalglish on the pitch.
"On the field, City and Liverpool have rarely been so in-sync, with both teams passing one another on the three tiers of the Premier League podium over the last eight months."
...Liverpool v City match report...
Supporters of the clubs have bonded in “Enemy Mine” rapport through the years (defined as: the enemy of my enemy is my friend) but circumstance has altered the complexion of this relationship of late, with (un)said adversary’s well-documented struggles and the hosts’ growing strength.
This was less must win than must not lose for City, however that type of pragmatism is the last trait one would associate with a team managed by one of world football’s great disciples of attacking football, Pellegrini.
The Chilean has never wavered from his pre-season pledge to pick teams to win matches, rather than make concessions to negate the strengths of others, and here was the latest evidence.
Pictures of Vincent Kompany hobbling out of training released on the day before the game may have ratcheted up the nerves for supporters on the day before the game but the skipper was declared fit to start in an identical XI to the one that drew against Arsenal at the Emirates a fortnight ago.
That meant that Sergio Aguero had to be patient to make his long-awaited comeback from injury, starting his afternoon on the substitute bench, with Edin Dzeko leading the line in front of Samir Nasri, David Silva and Jesus Navas.
Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers was looking to escape the fate that has befallen so many Barclays Manager of the Months to clock up his tenth successive win, his sixth in a row at Anfield and to announce his Liverpool side as genuine title front-runners.
So many sugary, bitter and piquant ingredients, so much emotion and so much at stake – a match between the two teams who have consistently played the best football and scored the most goals in the league this season… surely this couldn’t disappoint?
From a Liverpool point of view, it was a dream start.
Sterling ran onto a Luis Suarez through ball after six minutes and twisted Kompany inside and out, wrong-footing Joe Hart in the process, before curling it into the unguarded half of the net.
"Rodgers had talked about unleashing the Anfield crowd in the build-up to kick-off and, if he was asking for every City touch to be booed and whistled, he certainly got his wish."
...Liverpool v City match report...
This inhospitable Merseyside air certainly seemed to take a toll on a laboured away side in the first-half as they struggled to make any impression on the game and looked increasing susceptible to the velocity and veracity of the Liverpool breaks.
It went from bad to almost terminal after 26 minutes when Martin Skrtel stole in at the front post to meet a Steven Gerrard corner and sent a header looping over Hart into the far corner of the net to double the Liverpool advantage.
City had a good shout for a penalty waved away shortly after Skrtel’s goal, following a desperate lunge from Mamadou Sakho on Dzeko but Mark Clattenburg wasn’t moved, despite the Frenchman making no contact with the ball.
As the half-time whistle approached, there were the first few signs of a potential comeback as a Silva corner was cleared off the line and Fernandinho saw his acrobatic volley from a Silva cross turned away by Simon Mingolet.
No-one has scored more than Liverpool’s 57 first-half goals this season, so some hope remained that City could capitalise on any Reds malaise and turn around this deficit to earn an unlikely prospect-boosting point.
Liverpool were perhaps fortunate to keep a full complement of 11 players on the field when Suarez went to ground seven minutes into the second half and replays showed that Martin Demichelis made no contact with the Uruguayan.
Clattenburg gave neither a foul nor a second yellow card to the Liverpool no.7 but there was no time to dwell on that as four minutes later a dramatically improved City were back in the game.
James Milner climbed off the bench and made an immediate impression, exchanging passes with Fernandinho before picking out Silva from the byline and the Spanish playmaker made no mistake, slotting home his eighth goal of the season from close range.
Silva was instrumental in the equaliser which came seven minutes later as El Mago wriggled in behind the Liverpool rearguard and crossed in search of Dzeko, only for Johnson to inadvertently deflect the ball into his own net.
Aguero was introduced with the home side on the ropes and the scent of Liverpool blood in City nostrils 20 minutes from time and he was inches away from providing Silva with his second and the Blues' third goal to surely win the match after 75 minutes but his pass brushed David’s boot and agonizingly ended up on the wrong side of the far post.
"Against the run of play, it was Liverpool who struck next, and last, in this tumultuous clash."
...Liverpool v City match report...
Kompany’s sliced clearance fell invitingly for Coutinho on the edge of the area and the Brazilian produced a moment of brilliance to flash his shot into the bottom corner on the turn with 13 minutes to play.
Skrtel appeared to punch away Nasri’s late free-kick but, again, no spot-kick was given and Jordan Henderson was sent off for a truly horrific tackle on Nasri deep into stoppage time but it was too late to affect the scoreline.
Advantage Liverpool in the title race, then, but with matches against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park and Chelsea at Anfield to come, it ain’t over ‘til it’s over.
After all, City have been in worse spots and pulled off the improbable before...