A quick glance at the result between Manchester City and Tottenham on Sunday might suggest this game was closely fought, that Spurs went toe-to-toe with City and the teams traded plenty of punches, that there was not too much to separate the opposition.

That would be an illusion, and even Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino, conscious his side had got out of jail long before the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) denied City victory in stoppage time, made no attempt to pass this game off for something it was not.

Tottenham probably lay reasonable claim to being the country's third best team and yet here they were at the Etihad Stadium, battered if ultimately not beaten by a side playing football that Pep Guardiola ranked as among the best he had witnessed in his three years at the helm of this supercharged outfit.

There will, understandably, be plenty of focus on the result but look beyond that for a moment and ask yourself this: if City are able to pepper this Spurs side, one of the apparent title contenders, with 30 shots and concede just three in return (or two, according to Guardiola, who did not consider Harry Kane's botched attempt at another halfway shot to constitute a meaningful effort), what might they do to more modest opposition?


It was probably not even the most persuasive or one-sided of the many statistics that underlined City's superiority, despite first Erik Lamela and then substitute Lucas Moura cancelling out goals from Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero.

City created 22 chances to Tottenham's three — the irrepressible Kevin De Bruyne alone was responsible for nine of them — and Spurs managed just five touches in the opposition penalty area. City? Well, they had registered 52 in Tottenham's box by the time referee Michael Oliver called a halt to proceedings, moments after signalling that Gabriel Jesus's winner had been ruled out by the VAR for a hand ball by Aymeric Laporte.

There must be Premier League managers up and down the country shuddering at the thought of visiting the Etihad this term. It is certainly not unreasonable to think that, in the next 10 months, City might threaten the Premier League's record victory of 9-0, set by neighbours Manchester United against Ipswich Town in March, 1995.

"I think we dignify this sport," Guardiola said. "We dignify the people who pay to watch us and see how honest we are — to play for the people. And, more than anything, I would like — when I finish my period here — to leave that [legacy]. Especially the last two seasons, we were an incredible team. An incredible team. I'm a spectator, too, and what we are looking for, from the first day I came here, is to try to play in the way we played here [against Spurs]."

Pochettino talked about how City are operating in a different orbit to Tottenham, particularly off the pitch. While he sweats over whether he might still lose some of his best players, including Christian Eriksen, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen, before the transfer window closes in Europe on September 2, Guardiola knows his squad will remain untouched. Even if a European rival came calling for a player, City can say no. Tottenham cannot.

A glance at City's bench reinforced the might of Guardiola's squad. Has there ever been such a gilded crop of back-ups in a Premier League match?

David Silva has a World Cup and two European Championships to show for his 125 appearances for Spain and Fernandinho is one of the world's best defensive midfielders.

Joao Cancelo is the most expensive fullback in history, Jesus is Brazil's No 9 and Riyad Mahrez, the club's second most costly purchase.


Claudio Bravo has 119 caps for Chile and Phil Foden might be the most exciting talent England has produced since Wayne Rooney.

"What we have done [against Tottenham], I don't know if many teams can do it against them," Guardiola said. "That's why I said to the players, 'yes, it's emotional, it's frustrating to lose two points in that way' but football is like this.

"It's the only sport you can have 30 shots and the other team two, and draw — and even lose. In other sports, when you do what we've done — in basketball, tennis, golf — you win. That's why football is fascinating. But at the same time, we're sad because we want to win and didn't, but tomorrow we will stand up and prepare better."