Pablo Zabaleta said he thought Manchester City could repeat their 6-1 derby thrashing of Manchester United in Sunday’s demolition of their local rivals.
Right-back Zabaleta savoured a "special" day that he believes will help manager Manuel Pellegrini settle in at his new club. And he said that when Sergio Aguero put City three goals ahead in the 47th minute, he felt another huge scoreline was possible.
He said: "When we scored the third goal, everybody thought that it could be another chance to do it. Just for a moment I thought about the game we won 6-1. After we scored the fourth goal [in the 50th minute] we lost a bit of intensity.
"When the game is like that, and you see the team playing like that against a team like Manchester United, you know it is a special game. The fans understand everything is great. I felt we were fantastic. We were very solid at the back. We created lots of chances and they had only one or two shots on targets. Playing against this team that shows we were working really hard."
Zabaleta feels City’s performance showed that they are strong contenders to regain the title they last won in 2012.
He added: "This result has helped the manager, his staff and all the new players. Winning like that gives you confidence. It has helped the team to play much better collectively than we have done. Playing in the way we did today, we have a lot of chance to fight for the title."
The Argentina international also singled out United’s goalscorer Wayne Rooney for praise - but argued the England international, who scored a record 11th derby goal, put in more effort than his team-mates.
Zabaleta said: "I saw Rooney. He was one of their main players. He tried more than anyone else in the Manchester United team."