Pep Guardiola for one was in fulsome mood, perhaps consciously trying to reframe the narrative of the season, describing what his team has achieved so far as the one of the most remarkable achievements of his career.
Guardiola’s point was that City can never afford any slip whereas Tottenham could lose here and still qualify for the Champions League.
And 10 straight Premier League victories since losing to Newcastle in January has made this the ultimate staring contest with Jurgen Klopp, daring the other to blink first.
Phil Foden’s fifth minute goal was just about enough here even if City were not at their scintillating best. Tottenham might have been worth a draw.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Manchester City: Ederson 7.5, Walker 6, Stones 5.5, Laporte 7.5, Zinchenko 7.5, De Bruyne 6 (Fernandinho 38, 7), Gundogan 6.5, Foden 9 (David Silva 85), Bernardo Silva 8, Aguero 7 (Sane 65, 7), Sterling 6.5.
Subs not used: Muric, Mahrez, Otamendi, Gabriel Jesus.
Goals: Foden (5)
Manager: Pep Guardiola 8
Tottenham: Gazzaniga 7.5, Alderweireld 7 (Llorente 78, 7), Sanchez 7, Vertonghen 6.5, Foyth 5.5, Alli 6.5 (Rose 69, 7), Dier 6 (Wanyama 61, 6), Davies 5.5, Eriksen 8, Son 7.5, Lucas Moura 6.
Subs not used: Vorm, Janssen, Walker-Peters, Skipp.
Booked: Wanyama, Vertonghen
Manager: Mauricio Pochettino 7
Referee: Michael Oliver 6 (Northumberland)
Heung-min Son and Aymeric Laporte renewed their personal dual, honours more or less even on this occasion; Foden more than justified a Premier League start in such a major game, scoring his first Premier League goal and adding energy and guile; and Ederson confirmed his enormous value to City.
There were fascinating duels all over, not least between the two coaches, Mauricio Pochettino making five changes and opting for a back three, while Guardiola made three, with that Foden selection for David Silva the most significant.
Spurs constantly shifted shape, installing Danny Rose in midfield on 69 minutes, reverting to a back four on 76 minutes. Ultimately, it was impressive by Spurs but it wasn’t enough.