Carlos Tevez hit a hat-trick as City ruthlessly despatched Norwich for their second 6-1 away win this season.
In the process the Blues moved to within two points of United at the Barclays Premier League summit.
Kun Aguero also scored twice as Norwich were swept aside for the second time this season having already lost 5-1 at the Etihad Stadium
It was an imperious effort coming hot on the heels of the midweek demolition of West Brom though their perfectionist manager Roberto Mancini would have noted Norwich’s spirited comeback early in the second half.
Mancini stuck by most of the side that had clicked so well at home to West Brom, the only change being Pablo Zabaleta replacing Micah Richards. The chance to reinstate fit again Yaya Toure was passed up, although the Ivorian powerhouse did take a place on the bench.
A lively opening spell saw the hosts show more attacking brio in 10 minutes than West Brom had in the full 90 three days earlier
In the early going Pilkington whipped a shot across Hart just seconds after Silva had had seen his fierce shot blocked by Ruddy, and City’s defence continued to be tested by the quick-breaking Canaries.
The Blues might have had the chance to open the scoring from the spot when Carlos Tevez was felled by Ryan Bennett. However referee Chris Foy, in charge of a City game for the first time since dismissing Vincent Kompany in January’s derby, felt the striker had dived and booked him.
Manchester City finally asserted themselves with two sublime goals from their Argentinean strikeforce. A rasping shot from Tevez swerved and deceived Ruddy, and his cute backheel set up Aguero, whose first-time shot gave the Norwich keeper no chance.
City had the hosts comfortably at arm’s length for the rest of the first half, but after the interval they paid the price for taking their foot off the gas.
One of Paul Lambert’s half-time substitutions paid off on 50 minutes when Joe Hart’s punch to clear a cross fell invitingly for Andy Surman, who drove the ball back past him to set up an intriguing remainder of the game.
Norwich’s goal roused City into life, with Zabaleta forcing Ruddy into action with his feet and Aguero seeing a shot blocked – but by his own strike partner.
Yaya Toure replaced Samir Nasri as the half wore on, and he had a big say in the two goals that put the result beyond any doubt. His low shot was only parried into the air by Ruddy, and Tevez rose just enough to nod the ball home.Within a couple of minutes Toure had fed Aguero, who sped towards the penalty area before curling an exquisite shot into the far corner.
An under hit backpass from Bennett gave Tevez the perfect chance to bag a hat-trick, one he took with relish. Aguero and Adam Johnson then both hit the woodwork before the England winger added a sixth goal deep into stoppage time, perfect reward for the City fans who had set off so early to make it to Norfolk for the lunchtime kickoff.