Former Manchester City boss Mark Hughes frustrated his old club as his confident Stoke side held them to a goalless draw at the Britannia Stadium.
The Potters were unable to secure a third successive Barclays Premier League win but produced another encouraging performance as they continue to develop under new manager Hughes.
Stoke forward Jonathan Walters spurned one of the best chances of the game when he headed wide from a superb Charlie Adam cross in the first half. City goalkeeper Joe Hart also had to be alert to prevent a Matija Nastasic own goal.
City, who made six changes ahead of the start of their Champions League campaign next week, again failed to find their spark in what has become an unconvincing sequence under their new manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Pellegrini opted to change his strike pairing and hand a debut to Stevan Jovetic and a first start to Alvaro Negredo, with Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko making way.
Javi Garcia again failed to impress in central defence after surprisingly replacing Joleon Lescott while new pair Jesus Navas and Fernandinho were also among the substitutes.
James Milner, Jack Rodwell and Samir Nasri came in to little effect. Yet the visitors had the first sight of goal when Aleksandar Kolarov, scorer of a stunner for Serbia against Wales in midweek, shot wide.
Nasri was also presented with a chance after Yaya Toure robbed Steven Nzonzi but the Frenchman shot tamely at Asmir Begovic.
City looked to build patiently but they lacked fluidity and Stoke seemed more at ease with the new style Hughes is trying to implement.
The Potters were passing the ball around far more than their fans are accustomed to - and they even sang about it at one point - and gave City plenty to think about.