After watching Liverpool dismantle Norwich City on the opening night of the Premier League, you would be forgiven for thinking Manchester City were already under pressure.
But the champions showed no such nerves and ripped apart West Ham United at the London Stadium less than 24 hours later.
The 5-0 thrashing of the Hammers came as a shock to some who watched the game, with Pep Guardiola choosing to leave several superstars on the bench against a virtually full strength home team.
In fact, the strength in depth for the Citizens has frightened even former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Asked who had the resources to challenge for the title this season, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “Man City, Tottenham, Liverpool and Man City B Team. When I looked at the bench [against West Ham], the players not involved, I think the [City] B Team could fight for the title.”
Although European success has evaded City since their Abu Dhabi takeover in 2008, their domestic dominance under Guardiola is undeniable.
Mourinho, who was working as a pundit for United’s 4-0 thrashing of Chelsea at Old Trafford, added: “We would love United, Chelsea and Arsenal to also be at that level, it would be something incredible.
“But we are speaking about a team that won everything in England; we are speaking about the European champion and the European runner-up. Then we are talking about United sixth, and playing Europa League and Arsenal fifth and Europa League too.”
So how good actually is Manchester City’s ‘B team’ in comparison to their Premier League rivals?
Below, we have examined the strongest possible line ups for Chelsea and Manchester United and compared them to the two sides Manchester City are capable of playing. Using last season’s data from WhoScored.com, we will then work out an average rating for each squad to determine just how good they are.
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Manchester City strongest XI
While it may be hypocritical to suggest seasoned internationals are only good enough for Manchester City’s bench, we have to delineate between the two teams as fairly as possible.
When fit, we believe this to be the strongest possible City XI. Benjamin Mendy has suffered with injury problems ever since he arrived in 2017, but provides an entirely different attacking dimension to the team when he plays.
Rodri showcased exactly why Guardiola was so desperate to shell out a club record £62.8m during his performance at the London Stadium, with his vital interceptions and composure on the ball a huge help in the City midfield.
And up front Sergio Aguero gets the nod ahead of Gabriel Jesus given his consistency at the top level over the past eight years. Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling were two of the best players in the Premier League last season as well.
Average WhoScored XI rating: 7.16
Chelsea strongest XI
All he has been hamstrung in the transfer market, Frank Lampard still has a devilishly good squad he can choose from. The new boss may not have got it spot on against United on Sunday, but still has plenty of time to get it right.
N’Golo Kante simply has to start when fully fit, the World Cup winner possesses all the attributes Chelsea were lacking in their second half display at Old Trafford.
Kurt Zouma looked horribly exposed at times against United and Antonio Rudiger will be expected to slot into the back line alongside Andreas Christensen.
Up front, Olivier Giroud has the Premier League nous and experience to hold the ball up and bring in the likes of Christian Pulisic and Pedro into play.
Average WhoScored XI rating: 6.11
Manchester United strongest XI
For 40 minutes on Sunday, United were second best to a far more fluid Chelsea team. But the devastating pace and clinical nature of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team was frightening.
£80m signing Harry Maguire slotted seamlessly into the defence, as did Aaron Wan-Bissaka, to give the Red Devils a far more balanced look about them.
Daniel James only had a brief cameo from the bench, but his pace and direct style of play will terrify Premier League defenders – especially with the introduction of VAR scrutinising their every move.
If Solskjaer can keep Paul Pogba beyond the end of the transfer window, United have a seriously strong team to contend with.
Average WhoScored XI rating: 6.87
Manchester City second XI
As mentioned previously, it almost feels like we are doing these fine players a disservice by suggesting they are not worthy of starting for Man City.
But there is absolutely no shame in missing out in this instance as Guardiola has specifically built a squad capable of interchanging in case of injuries or suspension without being weakened.
A midfield trio of Fernandinho, Phil Foden and Ilkay Gundogan is good enough to start for any side in the country, even Liverpool. And the front three of Leroy Sane, Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus possess the sort of pace and threat to give defenders nightmares.
Perhaps the only weakness of this team is at the back, with Eliaquim Mangala and Nicolas Otamendi flattering to deceive at times.
Average WhoScored XI rating: 6.98
As we can see from the results, Manchester City have a seriously strong second XI which would be more than capable of handling themselves.
To conclude, City have more than enough to challenge for a third successive Premier League title.
But it is success in the Champions League which Pep will hope his star-studded squad can deliver.