"Of course we feel the pressure," said the England goalkeeper in the wake of City's goalless draw at West Bromwich Albion on Boxing Day. "You have to earn the title and it's hard work.
"We're the team to beat and we're enjoying that but it's not always going to be as easy as we've sometimes made it look in the past. Of course it's disappointing not to have won again but West Brom set out for a point and they got it. We need to be winning these games but we haven't and we move on."
The next stage in City's domestic journey transports them north‑east across the Pennines to face a Sunderland side newly galvanised under Martin O'Neill's management and still striving to free themselves of relegation worries on New Year's Day.
Hart acknowledged that, once again, things may not be entirely straightforward at the Stadium of Light. "The league is not set up for us to win it," he said.
"Everyone has their own private little things that they're trying to do – if they're not challenging for the title, they're challenging for Europe, if they're not challenging for Europe they want to stay above the relegation zone. Everyone has got their own agendas. We're top of the league, still playing well and still creating chances but, as West Brom proved, it isn't always easy for us."
While City's rivals Manchester United were thrashing Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford and thereby registering their second successive 5-0 Premier League victory, Roberto Mancini's side stuttered at The Hawthorns, experiencing their first failure to score in the league this season to allow their neighbours to draw level on points at the top of the table.
"There is all sorts of pressure and we're feeling it," said Hart. "We felt the pressure from West Brom, who were brilliant, and we felt the pressure from strikers Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long. But we are applying pressure as well; we're still top of the league."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Smabs Sputzer
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