When Manuel Pellegrini claimed his Manchester City side were the bigger team in Manchester, ahead of their home Champions League tie against Barcelona in February, his comments were imprudently dismissed with instruction to shoot a glance at the glorious trophy cabinet at Old Trafford. But truth be told, the Chilean was indisputably correct - those triumphs had been secured under Sir Alex Ferguson's memorable stewardship, and now David Moyes is the distinct face at the United helm.
For years, Manchester United supporters had relentlessly mocked their city rivals. The famed banner ridiculing City's 35 year-wait for a trophy was duly taken down in 2011 with Roberto Mancini leading City to FA Cup glory. They laughed at their supposed noisy neighbours year after year, season after season. But as Sheikh Mansour invested staggeringly into the club before Ferguson ceremoniously departed United, the tables in Manchester have dramatically turned. Now it is the turn of City supporters to gleefully ridicule their fierce rivals - their time has come.
"You're the worst champions ever seen", they so jubilantly sang as Edin Dzeko, with his brace, and Yaya Toure guided City to their third successive derby win and their third consecutive at Old Trafford. Pellegrini's side showcased their intent, authority and power from the start - they are the kings of Manchester.
The role reversal ahead of the 150th Manchester derby did not only hail City's powerful emergence, but also United's humbling demise. Fergie's Red Devils were invariably favourites before the world renown derby, but for the first time, City were, mirroring Liverpool's backing to win at Old Trafford recently. And what's more, both sides failed to disappoint expectations - United were outclassed by two of their most bitter rivals at the Theatre Of Dreams.
Moyes's men languish in seventh, an unacceptable lowly feat for a prestigious club such as United, with its vast fanbase around the world. This United side are shorn of the wing pace which played a pivotal role in Fergie's honourable success. Their midfielders, Carrick, Cleverley, Jones, Fellaini and Fletcher, have only a total of three goals to their name, a stark contrast to Yaya Toure's seventeen. Not only are United in dire need of a complete overhaul of personnel, their mentality must be somehow transformed. Moyes's men meekly surrender without a convicted fight, something they made a routine during their ominous days under Ferguson. While United plot their rise and attempt to stifle their swift decline, City will not simply halt their delightful progress and patiently wait for Moyes's side to catch up.
The Scot conceded authority to City with his post-match comments; "I think we've played a very good side and it's the sort of standard and level we need to try and aspire to get ourselves to at this moment in time," he said. And he was right.
Yet City, with their indisputable wealth of talented riches, are a side which would warmly welcome improvement, most prominently in the centre-half position. Vincent Kompany, an accomplished defender and a great leader, requires a stable partnership in which to flourish even more, with Pellegrini often selecting the precarious Martin Demichelis alongside the Belgium captain. At times, United exploited their foe's terribly brittle defensive wall, looking a threat on the counter-attack. The likes of Eliaquim Mangala and William Carvalho, also linked with United, are the missing link to City enforcing themselves as a true European force.
United were mainly beaten in midfield. Fernandinho, who was deservedly awarded the Man of the Match accolade, and Toure were superb, dominating the feeble core of their opponents with such utter ease. Michael Carrick was unable to emulate Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic in thwarting the respective powers of Toure and David Silva, who constantly found acute pockets of perilous space.
City are now only three points behind Chelsea with two games in hand. Yet Manuel Pellegrini refused to concede that it is his team's title to lose. "No I don't think so," said the manager. "The title race continues, we continue fighting with all the other three – Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool. We have two games postponed but we have to win those two games. Tomorrow I start thinking about Arsenal [who City visit on Saturday] and then I think about the end of the season."