City were forced to settle for a draw after Blackburn Rovers fought-back from a goal down to earn a replay.
The Blues, who ended the game with ten men following Dedryck Boyata’s sending off, are now facing a fixture pile-up after failing to put their Championship opponents to the sword at Ewood Park - despite taking a first-half lead through Alvaro Negredo.
That said, Rovers probably did enough to earn another crack at the Blues who were far from their best in a scrappy cup tie.
With more than 7,000 travelling Blues in attendance, the magic of the FA Cup clearly lingers on, though there was hardly the red-hot atmosphere perhaps there could have been for this third round tie with the home fans staying away in their thousands
...Rovers 1 City 1...
After waiting 42 years to win the FA Cup, City have been to the final twice in the last three years, appearing five times at Wembley including semi-finals and a Charity Shield match – it was no more than a distant dream to most Blues that one day, the home of English football would become something of a second home for their team in recent times.
But there is a determination to return there perhaps further three times this year as City's thirst for an unprecedented haul of silverware gathers pace - though the Blues will need to perform better than this to maintain those ambitions.
Clearly, Manuel Pellegrini wants to win the lot and there was no wholesale tinkering with the team – just a balanced mix of first-team regulars and top-notch fringe players that has been the trademark of the Chilean’s cup teams this season. So far so good.
Standing in the way of a step closer to Wembley on this occasion were Blackburn Rovers, a club who have had their fair share of trouble and strife in recent years and the disappointing turn out of the home support for this game suggests the problems rumble on in the background.
Having tasted a bitter defeat to Rovers at the sixth round stage of the FA Cup in 2007, this was a chance for the huge travelling army to settle that particular score against a team managed by Gary Bowyer - son of former City midfielder Ian Bowyer.
The opening half-hour was a disjointed affair with Blackburn marginally the better team as the Blues struggled to stamp their authority on the game. A mixture of good closing down by the hosts and poor passing from the visitors made for a frustrating spectacle and City didn’t even manage a shot in anger until the 28th-minute and when a clear-cut chance dud present itself, David Silva skied a shot from eight yards out.
With half-time beckoning, finally, City broke the deadlock. Silva’s corner was nodded goalwards by Dzeko and Negredo tapped home from close range - looking suspiciously offside. It was the one highlight of an otherwise tepid display by Pellegrini’s side.
Though there was better fluidity from the Blues after the break, ten minutes after the re-start Blackburn were level as Gestede’s powerful header was only pushed out by Pantilimon and Neil Dann tapped home from close range.
It wasn’t entirely unexpected and City could have had few complaints with too many players having a bad day at the office
...Rovers 1 City 1..
There were half-chances at either end thereafter and Boyata’s second bookable offence reduced the Blues to ten men late in the game, but in truth, neither side merited a victory and the teams will now have to go again on 15 January, 7.45pm with the winners hosting either Bristol City or Watford.