City have a mountain to climb in the title race after third successive Premier League defeat.
Sunday’s exertions seemed to have taken their toll as Liverpool won this encounter comfortably to further dent the Blues’ hopes of making ground of the teams above.
City must bounce back against Aston Villa on Saturday – and then keep winning.
Manuel Pellegrini made three changes from the side that started the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool with Joe Hart replacing Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas coming in for the injured Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta replaced Bacary Sagna
...Liverpool v City...
The hosts made five changes of their own, with Daniel Sturridge dropped and Phillippe Coutinho relegated to the bench.
With only one win at Anfield in 35 years, traditionally, this is not a fixture City fans look forward to and a familiar patter would emerge as the evening progressed.
With the added spice of Sunday’s defeat to spur the Merseysiders on, this was arguably one of the Blues’ toughest remaining fixtures.
As expected, Jürgen Klopp’s men came out of the blocks with a high press that made it difficult for City to keep possession for any length of time.
It made for a tricky opening to the game but the Blues gradually settled into the task and started to make inroads in the final third without troubling keeper Simon Mignolet.
As the pace settled down to a gentler pace, it seemed the first-half would end scoreless, but two Liverpool goals out of the blue before the break looked like making this yet another miserable trip to Anfield.
The first on 33 minutes came when Adam Lallana shot from 25 yards out - though there didn’t seem to be an real power in the attempt, the ball still somehow ended in the City net.
Seven minutes later and James Milner nipped ahead of Zabaleta to fire a low shot past Hart and into the via the foot of the post and the former Blue celebrated his strike with gusto.
Liverpool may have edged the opening period, but a two-goal lead felt harsh, though the Blues had been a shadow of the side that had won the Capital One Cup and swept aside Kyiv.
Unfortunately, they couldn’t turn the tide as Firmino tripled the hosts’ lead just before the hour-mark to compound an already miserable night – and there was still half-an-hour left to play.
Hart made a couple of decent saves in the time that remained but rarely have City been so ineffective in attack with the only silver lining coming in the shape of defeats to Arsenal and Tottenham – though a clutch of clubs are gathering momentum in the Blues’ rear-view mirror.
City cannot afford anymore below par performance like this in the ten league games that remain.