Manchester City displayed the spirit of defending champions on Sunday as they secured derby spoils with a narrow 1-0 victory over 10-man Manchester United.
Those at the Etihad Stadium have no intention of allowing the Premier League crown to be knocked from their head, and a potentially decisive marker has been laid down to those with eyes on the prize.
Chelsea may continue to lead the way, four points clear at the summit and six ahead of City, but the ball keeps being knocked back into their court.
Talk of Jose Mourinho’s men emulating the Arsenal ‘Invincibles’ of 2003/04 is slightly premature, with there still close to three-quarters of the current campaign to come.
There will be a number of obstacles for them to overcome and history suggests that they will stumble at some stage, opening the door to the chasing pack.
Sergio Aguero, City’s match-winner against United, has warned Chelsea that Manuel Pellegrini’s men will be ready to pounce when the nerves start to fray, with a winning-mentality returned to their ranks following a wobble of their own.
The Argentine striker told City TV: "It is important to win.
"Chelsea are doing very well and they keep winning but we have to go on and I'm sure they will drop some points.
"They play at Liverpool next weekend and we will see if they drop points but the important thing is that we have to win games."
|Position||Goals||Total Scoring Att||Ontarget Scoring Att||Total Contest||Touches||Appearances||Mins Played|
Aguero – a two-time Premier League winner and scorer of possibly the most dramatic title-winning goal in history – is aware that the pressure is on him to fire City forward, with his strike against United seeing him become the first man to break into double figures this season.
He added on the race for the Golden Boot: "There is a long way to go.
"It's important to continue like that and it is important that all the goals mean that we win games. I always say that goals are great when they mean victories."
Aguero netted 23 times in the league to help City to the title in 2011/12, including that memorable effort against Queens Park Rangers on the final day, and another 17 last season as domestic dominance was restored at the Etihad.
With there still 28 games to come this season, and with an enviable array of creative and goalscoring options alongside him, you get the feeling that Chelsea will have to go some in order to keep the holders of English football’s biggest prize at bay.