Having relinquished their title to United, City's remaining league fixtures may be more important than first thought.
Last season everything mattered; every last kick of the season.
But twelve months on, Manchester City are facing a month of meaningless kicks with a few important ones sandwiched in between.
Some will say the league games prior to the FA Cup final will be auditions for the main event. But the truth is manager Roberto Mancini surely knows his starting eleven for the showpiece against Wigan.
Whatever sound-bites he may give about playing their way into the team, the Italian has his first 11 clear and confirmed. Only injuries or suspensions will alter that.
But rather than being matches with nothing to play for but pride and a few extra points, those five league games are auditions for something else entirely.
Just as Sir Alex Ferguson began his planning in the moment after Sergio Aguero’s title-winning strike against QPR, so Mancini will have been plotting his own side’s rejuvenation as Robin van Persie completed his hat-trick on Monday night.
City know they must up their game. And as much as their manager believes they remain the best squad in the country, they have fallen short here and not even come close in Europe.
It is time for the blue side of Manchester to reassess and go again. But rather than fine-tuning, you sense their move will be a big one.
Where United signed van Persie and Shinji Kagawa, City will surely attempt to go one better.
Talk continues of a possible move for Edinson Cavani and at least one new striker is essential. They also need to strengthen a defence that excels when their first choice centre-back pairing is fit and available but struggles when one or both is missing.
Mancini will have his targets and know his sacrifices. But in the remaining six matches, his current crop would do well to treat every game as a cup final, not just the one at Wembley.
They must prove they can be part of what will either be a redesign or a revolution; because even when a match doesn’t matter for its usual reasons, it matters for others.
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image: © Andrew Brannan