I heard many fans at the ground yesterday saying it was City's worst performance of the season, which, as a sentiment, is worrying in itself, but it is the first time a team has set up solely to stifle City's attacking play this season - as Moyes said "I wasn't going to come here for the enjoyment of Man City." When a team has ten men behind the ball, the football is naturally going to be played patiently and in front of the wall of defenders for the large part of the game.
Last season, many teams came to City and adopted the same tactic - sitting behind the ball and frustrating City - and for the most part, they had some success. So it was refreshing to see City come out on top. The perceived one-dimensional 'Carlos Tevez reliance' that was a factor last season has gone, and whilst teams can sit on David Silva for most of the game, the fruit of our riches means that Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko or Balotelli may still cause problems.
The decision by Mancini to put his faith in the mercurial Balotelli to be the match changer will hopefully be another grounding for the young Italian. He was obviously delighted with his goal and produced a mature and steady performance (little tantrums excepted) that fully justified him being preferred to Tevez - who is yet to find the confidence that marked his displays last season. Mario's ability has never been in question - he has all the tools needed to be one of the best strikers in the league - and if, it is a big if, he can consistently approach games with the right attitude, then there is no reason why he shouldn't be able to force his way into the team. With Tevez eventually staying this summer, the renaissance of Dzeko, and the arrival of Aguero, Balotelli, for all his confidence, must have wondered how much he would feature this season, so hopefully Mancini's faith in him as match-winner should re-focus him once again.
One of the most contentious post-match issues seems to be that of Moyes's approach to the game. I, for one, fully expected Everton to come and defend - as many teams will this season - and Moyes does have precious few resources with which to mount a serious attacking challenge to City in a game such as this: even their previous victories, as impressive as they were, were notably dogged displays - their only two shots of the game sealed last season's victory. Yet there are degrees to such an approach. In previous seasons, there always seemed to be the ambition to win the game - which wasn't apparent here. It is of little consequence to me - and I recognise teams' efforts to shut out City as a sign of respect - but the lively showing of Apostolos Vellios, when he came on, was enough to think 'would it really have dented such a defensive showing to have at least one outlet upfront?'
However, the contrast between Tim Howard's slothful, meditative art of goalkicking before the goal and his frantic, scurrying transformation afterwards was pathetically brilliant. It is one thing to defend from the outset, which of course is just part of football, but to waste time from the first minute is something else.
David Silva's pass for Milner's goal was unbelievable - just when I thought the central option was closed up, or, in an inexplicable wavering of faith, I thought he might just be about to lose the ball, Milner was through for the second. He truly is a magician. Stubbornly followed around the pitch by Jack Rodwell, his performance was an exercise in patience and he still managed to assert his influence on the game.
On a final note, it must be quite satisfying as a manager to bring on three substitutes - two of whom score and the other completes a clearance off the goal-line.