City eased into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a comfortable 3-0 win over Watford.
First-half goals from Carlos Tevez and Gareth Barry put the Blues a couple of goals to the good during a one-sided first 45 and 17-year-old sub Marcos Lopes added a third in injury time to see off spirited Championship opposition.
Now the Blues will await Sunday’s fourth round draw with interest , perhaps allowing thoughts of more silverware for a team who could still yet record a first league and cup double.
A few years ago, the future of the FA Cup looked in doubt. Critics claimed the competition had lost its sparkle and the magic was gone forever.
Then, during City’s epic journey to the 2011 final, the FA Cup seemed to mean everything once again and the epic semi-final against United was proof that there was plenty life left in the oldest domestic competition in the world.
Fast forward 18 months and a sell-out Etihad Stadium crowd, swelled by more than 6,000, colourful travelling fans from Watford, and it seems as though the FA Cup is back where it belongs in the hearts and minds of football fans up and down the land.
Roberto Mancini named his strongest possible starting XI with only the enforced absences of Samir Nasri (suspended), Sergio Aguero (injured) and the Africa Cup of Nations-bound Yaya Toure preventing an even more powerful line-up.
The only rested first-team regular was Joe Hart who will have to wait until next weekend to make his 200th appearance for the Blues - Costel Pantilimon was handed only his seventh start as a result.
The was little between the teams in early exchanges in the battle between two managers who graced Serie A and in Gianfranco Zola’s case, the Premier League as well.
Pablo Zabaleta forced an early save from Jon Bond and the Blues had the ball in the net when Edin Dzeko was flagged offside as he chested the ball home from a yard out on 21 minutes, but the home fans were on their feet again three minutes later when Tevez fired a howitzer of a free-kick home from 20 yards out to finally break the Hornets’ resistance.
Watford could have been level within 60 seconds as Fernando Forestieri found himself with clean through but Pantilimon saved well and City never looked back, dominating the rest of the half and doubling the lead through Barry on 44 minutes following fine work by David Silva and James Milner.
There was little else of note after the break other than the return of Mario Balotelli as a second-half sub and the debut of Portuguese teenager Lopes for his City debut - he scored with virtually his first kick - and the game's last to become one of the Club's youngest ever goal-scorers aged 17 years and eight days old - to cap a memorable few moments for the youngster and complete a routine home victory.