Manchester City began life without Roberto Mancini with a routine 2-0 victory over Reading at a rain-sodden Madejski Stadium.
Saturday's FA Cup final defeat to unfancied Wigan proved the final straw for big-spending City, who on Monday night sacked the Italian a year to the day after he led them to the Premier League title. The post-Mancini era began in haste as former assistant Brian Kidd took caretaker charge for the penultimate match of a frustrating campaign.
With Reading already relegated and City's Champions League place assured, the match had a distinct end-of-season feel about it. Royals goalkeeper Alex McCarthy made a string of fine saves either side of Sergio Aguero's strike at the end of the first half before substitute Edin Dzeko wrapped up a win that secured second place in the closing stages.
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini is overwhelming favourite to take over, although he would not have learned much from watching this fare.
On the pitch, City began brightly and James Milner, one of four changes to the side beaten at Wembley, fired over inside two minutes.
City were not to be denied for long, though, as an exquisite short corner routine involving Gareth Barry, David Silva and Milner saw the ball played across for Aguero to slot home with power and precision.
He would have netted an immediate second if it was not for McCarthy's quick reactions stopping the forward's fierce drive.
Keen not to go down with a whimper, Reading upped the ante for the final 20 minutes and were unfortunate not to net. Adrian Mariappa saw a header well saved by Joe Hart, with Garath McCleary seeing a fizzing drive deflected behind by Joleon Lescott.
Carlos Tevez cleared a Mariappa header off the line from the resulting corner before Jem Karacan attempted a 22-yard drive that Hart could only save at full stretch.
Yaya Toure and substitute Dzeko tested McCarthy in that period, with the latter finally extending City's lead with two minutes remaining. After Reading sloppily gave away possession, Silva slipped through Dzeko, who coolly slotted home a second.