So here’s the question: if the team keeps serving up entertainment like this, are the fans going to persist with booing before the curtain goes up?
Champions League nights at The Etihad Stadium have tended to be an uncomfortable experience. The negativity that has been aimed at UEFA from the stands, as soon as the first bars of that anthem have been played, made it feel that this was tournament they simply didn’t get.
But now they have got Pep Guardiola, once a winner as player and a two-time winner in his second career. Here is a manager who has never failed to reach the semi-finals and is inspired by everything that conquering Europe represents.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Bravo 6.5; Zabaleta 6.5, Otamendi 7, Stones 7.5, Kolarov 7.5; Fernandinho 9, Gundogan 8.5 (Clichy); Navas 6, De Bruyne 7.5, Sterling 7.5 (Sane); Aguero 9.5 (Iheanacho)
Subs not used: Caballero, Sagna, Nolito, Angelino
Goals: Aguero (8, 28, 77); Iheanacho (90+1)
Booked: Otamendi 48
Manager: Pep Guardiola
Borussia Mon’gladbach (3-4-3): Sommer 6; Elvedi 6.5, Christensen 5.5, Strobl 6; Johnson 6, Dahoud 6.5, Kramer 4 (Korb 38, 6), Wendt 6; Hahn 6 (Hazard 59, 6), Stindl 6 (Traore 81), Raffael 6.5
Subs not used: Sippel, Vestergaard, Hofmann, Jantschke
Booked: Kramer 27
Manager: Andre Schubert
Referee: Bjorn Kuipers 6
And now City have a got a team that, regardless of what Guardiola says, will be threat to all in this competition. They are playing football that is a joy to watch. Why, then, persist with the negativity?
Games against teams like Borussia Monchengladbach have caused City problems in the past but there was never any sense of this following that old, laboured pattern. A monsoon postponed this game for a day but, when it began, Monchengladbach found themselves drowning in possession.
They should have been washed away in a flood of goals and Sergio Aguero’s hat-trick, plus a late strike from Kelechi Iheanacho, did not illustrate City’s dominance. Here, then, was a 4-0 battering and a comprehensive first step towards the knockout stages.
The delay to kick-off had left the German visitors enraged but the extra 24 hours worked in one man’s favour: Ilkay Gundogan, who had been scheduled to be a substitute, benefitted from an injury to David Silva in training – described as “a minor knock” – that unexpectedly opened the door.
Football is all about taking opportunities and Gundogan was intent on grabbing his chance from the start, using the ball adroitly and hurling forward to join the high speed counter-attacks that kept shredding Monchengladbach’s defence.
He was immaculate, barely wasting a pass. Like all the class acts, Gundogan always seemed to have an extra second to decide what he wanted to do. For the record, he wears number eight, Colin Bell’s old shirt. Early days, of course, but this was a display of which ‘The King’ would have approved.
Then again, Bell would have approved of the performance in general. Guardiola, having had three seasons playing Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, knew exactly how to take them apart and that is precisely what City set out to do from the first kick.
Having waited a day to get down to action, they looked intent on finishing this in 45 minutes. Such was the pace at which they moved the ball around, Monchengladbach’s defenders kept being spun around like tops and the only surprise was that it took eight minutes to breakthrough.
Aguero made the finish look simple, darting into the six yard area to finish emphatically, but the way it was created was everything that Guardiola wants to see, Aleksandar Kolarov sweeping a magnificent cross into the six yard area having exchanged passes with Raheem Sterling.
Gundogan should have made it 2-0 in the 12th minute but, having been teed up by Aguero, he was denied by a stunning save from Yann Sommer after Fernandinho had sent Kevin De Bruyne, the hero of the Manchester derby, scurrying down the right to create havoc.
City debutant Ilkay Gundogan was impressive for the hosts in midfield after starting in place of the injury stricken David Silva
The two managers – both hands on and similar in style – patrolled the touchline all evening and constantly bellowed orders
When Monchenglabach came here last December in the final group game, things were decidedly different and City needed a late flurry, from Sterling and the recently jettisoned Wilfried Bony, to chisel out a 4-2 win but there was never any hint such circumstances would be repeated.
All doubt about how this game would end was removed in the 28th minute when Aguero showed no ill-effects from his double penalty calamity in the qualifier against Steaua Bucharest to calmly convert a spot kick after Gundogan had been clumsily tripped by Christoph Kramer.
On the sidelines, Monchengladbach’s head coach Andre Schubert frantically waved his arms like an overworked tic-tac man, demanding his players find some organisations, but it made no difference. City were rampant and Sterling, in particular, was guilty of wastefulness.
A similar story continued after the break. Aguero thought he had got the match ball in the 49th minute but was denied by a flying stop from Kramer, after the Argentine striker had worked an opening.
Ever the perfectionist, Guardiola seemed as irritated as Schubert at times, barking orders at Nicolas Otamendi, shouting his frustration towards his coaching staff, running his hand across his head in exasperation when a move broke down.
When Sterling, De Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta fluffed further chances, it seemed that Monchengladbach had got off lightly but, eventually, Aguero completed the job, dancing around Sommer after Sterling squeezed another inviting ball through.
His night’s work complete, Guardiola substituted Aguero and his replacement, Iheanacho, ended the scoring with a thumping finish from Leroy Sane’s cutback.
Predictably, the ovation was thunderous, the acclaim noisily approving. And you could not help but think it would be better if it was like this right from the start.