City ended the first Sunday of the new season where they were on the last Sunday of the old one – top of the league.
A familiar 2-0 win at Newcastle was gained with the minimum of fuss thanks to a goal in each half.
Rehearsals complete, understudies prepped, new cast members welcomed, familiar faces given new contracts all that remained was the smell of the vanishing spray (liniment is so old school) and the roar of the crowd!
Opening day nerves are not something that one associates with City who have treated the draft created by the curtain going up as a wind beneath their wings previously winning four times in five first day outings and drawing the other.
Now make that five in six! Two goals were more than enough for the first three points of the title defence.
David Silva was first City man into the book and first on the score sheet this campaign bursting into the game in the 38th minute with a finish of cool casualness that oozed class.
Yaya Toure began the move with a long, floated pass and then, in a spot of role reversal, Edin Dzeko produced a back-heeled assist of stunning brilliance and Silva afforded the finish it deserved for 1-0.
Sergio Aguero, a late substitute, gave the score line a familiar look to it. Pouncing in injury time, first showing his pace to beat Coloccini and then his sharpness and awareness to score at the second attempt after keeper Tim Krul had performed some heroics.
Before then, the Champions had worked hard tracking back and built up stylishly – if slowly – on occasions but other than two chances in the first 11 minutes when both Dzeko and Samir Nasri brought fine saves from Krul, they had been stymied by a stout rearguard action from Newcastle.
At times Alan Pardew’s side, bolstered in midfield in an attempt to overrun Toure and Fernando, played more like the away side. Perhaps the United boss had taken his cue from Arsene Wenger’s set up at Wembley last week, a game City lost 0-3!
However, having succumbed in less than Oscar winning fashion to Arsenal in the Community Shield, the champions were in no mood to fluff their lines once the Sky cameras rolled for real.
The Toon army, one of the most loyal and patiently long-suffering in all of football, roared its early defiance - though this was clearly based on new season hope rather than expectation – and it was left to those in the not so cheap seats in the St James Park ‘gods’ to call for an encore at the end of the contest.
Only a week ago Manuel Pellegrini intimated that he felt some of this charges were underdone in terms of the Premier League pressure cooker and might need a little while to come the boil but there was little sign of that here; just a healthy portion of simmering intent.
Pellegrini will have plenty of selection options at his disposal this season with two full teams (and a couple of subs) that could both challenge for honours!
His first decisions on opening day were to hand Joe Hart the number one goalkeeping slot ahead of Willy Caballero then restore skipper Vincent Kompany and Martin Demichelis – both absent all pre-season – to the heart of the defence and send his men out in a 4-4-2 formation with Yaya Toure and Fernando in the middle behind a twin strike force of Edin Dzeko and Stevan Jovetic.
The bench made interesting reading and will no doubt continue to be the envy of many of Pellegrini’s fellow managers.
Newcastle had a much changed look from the last time the two sides met and handed debuts to Daryl Janmaat, Remy Cabella, Emmanuel Riviere and Jack Colback. Cabella in particular took the eye, not just for his tenacious play on both flanks but also for his haircut - surely one of the worst in the game and one that would have had Chingachgook handing in his tomahawk!
The home side were to their credit never less than tenacious or diligent and a largely disjoined second half produced only a handful of chances.
Two of City’s best ended up rippling the roof of the net rather than the back of it. Toure’s 72nd minute free-kick followed Dzeko’s 64th minute header and both had Krul’s heartbeat rising.
At the other end, Dummett went close with a header too and only a partial block by Fernando prevented Ayoze from snatching a late equaliser.
It was one of many fine moments for the debutant in the City midfield. He got booked late on when he joined four other visiting players on a yellow card. Shame really because it wasn’t that type of game.