It was the final question when Roberto Mancini was asked whether he could ever remember overturning a 2-0 first-leg deficit in almost 30 years in the game, that the Manchester City manager put into context the task facing his team in their Europa League tie against Dynamo Kyiv.
"Never," Mancini said. "Two-nil is very different, it's a very bad scoreline for us." Should Dynamo score one, for example, City would need four goals to progress to the quarter-finals. Mancini conducted an angry dressing-room postmortem after the defeat at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy stadium last week.
Yet Dynamo are traditionally notstrong travellers and, as City prepared in the position of underdogs, there was a clear sense at Eastlands of a team wanting to make up for their shortcomings in Ukraine.
"I think we were caught by surprise last week," the defender Vincent Kompany said. "None of us expected Dynamo to be such a good team. We know they were a good team but on the day they were very good. That was the surprise.
"It was an away game in Ukraine, quite different conditions, long travel, you have to adapt to all this. We didn't really handle the conditions. They did their jobs very well and we were on a bad day. But the past is the past. We know what we're up against now so there will be no surprises this time."
The dilemma for Mancini is that he must balance his desire to play a strong team with the knowledge that City's next assignment is at Chelsea on Sunday. The Italian has spoken many times of his team suffering from the sapping effects of a season that has already featured 47 games but he does not go along with the theory that dropping out of the Europa League would be an advantage to a team battling for a top-four finish in the Premier League and preparing for an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United.
"It's very difficult for me to think like this," he said. "I always want to win and to try and go to the quarter-final. That should always be our only mentality."
Nonetheless he touched again on the issue of fatigue, admitting there had been a dip in Carlos Tevez's level of performance; the Argentinian may be rested. James Milner could be on the bench after his recent hamstring problem and Mancini reported that Adam Johnson was close to a return after nearly two months out with an ankle injury. However, Pablo Zabaleta is on compassionate leave in Argentina and will miss the tie.
Manchester City possible (4-2-3-1): Hart; Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; Vieira, Barry; Silva, Y Touré, Balotelli; Dzeko.
Dynamo Kyiv possible (4-2-3-1): Shovkovskiy; Danilo Silva, Khacheridi, Yussuf, Popov; Vukojevic, Eremenko; Gusev, Shevchenko, Yarmolenko; Kravets.
Referee: C Cakir (Tur).
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
Have something to tell us about this article?