Defeat to Ajax has left Manchester City with a tough task if they are going to improve on last season's paltry performance in the Champions League. It has also intensified the glare on Roberto Mancini's ability to deliver on the biggest stage.
Domestically it is a different story altogether though. Despite only keeping one clean sheet in all competitions this season, and looking decidedly shaky at the back, the Premier League champions have made a good start to the defence of their crown, most importantly keeping the winning mentality intact even when they haven't been playing well.
Last weekend's win against West Brom was an example in point; trailing with ten minutes to go, Edin Dzeko was introduced from the substitutes' bench and bagged a brace and a valuable victory. City have also relied on late goals against Fulham, QPR, Liverpool and Southampton and are making a habit of grinding out important points.
A trip to Swansea ended in a shock defeat for City last season but it would be a surprise to see the same mistakes made again, especially at Etihad Stadium, where Mancini's men are unbeaten in 33 league games. Swansea will arrive in buoyant mood - three wins and two draws from their opening eight games sees the so-called "minnows" safely ensconced in mid-table. Important points have been gained from the victories against Wigan, QPR and West Ham as well as an impressive performance to fight back and draw against Reading.
But it hasn't all been plain sailing, as a failure to score in their three defeats and speculation about unrest within the camp regarding manager Michael Laudrup's methods show that Swansea can be beaten and it is likely that will be the case against a City side keen to underline their ability after an unconvincing midweek showing in Amsterdam.
Defeat is unlikely to have a drastic effect on Swansea's bid to secure a third successive top-flight campaign. They have already shown an ability to defeat the teams around them in the league, which will be enough to help them beat the drop. City, however, stand to profit from a win with their early rivals at the top, Chelsea and Manchester United, set to play on Sunday.
Man City player to watch: Edin 'Don't call me super-sub' Dzeko. The Bosnian striker made it perfectly clear last weekend that he wasn't happy with a role that sees him enter the fray late in the day when City are chasing the game. Unfortunately it is a role he excels in, with all six of his goals this season coming in the final 30 minutes of games. He may not earn a start against Swansea with Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero both above him in the pecking order but back the former Wolfsburg man to hit the target if he gets on the pitch.
Swansea City player to watch: Michu. With six goals in just eight Premier League games (and even more remarkably from just eight shots) the Spanish attacker has taken no time at all to bed into English football, but that should come as no surprise. Costing a mere £2 million he is proving an absolute bargain, and his eye for goal will be crucial if Swansea are to stand any chance in the champions' back yard.
Key battle: Yaya Toure v Leon Britton. Midfielders don't come much more different than the physically imposing figure of Yaya Toure and the slight but effective Leon Britton, but both men are equally important to their sides' chances of winning. If City play well, it's likely because Toure has had a decisive hand in proceedings, while the ability of Britton (who posted better passing stats than Xavi as recently as January 2012) is the rock on which Swansea build their game.
Trivia: Manchester City have recorded 56 shots on target this season already, the most of any team in the Premier League.
Stats: If Swansea want to stand a chance of leaving with a point or three they could do worse than practice their set-pieces. Man City have conceded a league high 56% of goals from set pieces this season.
Odds: Man City are a narrow 1.22, while for the brave a draw is 6.00 and for the optimistic romantic a Swansea win is 15.00 with bet365. At 4.50 as last goalscorer, Dzeko can be backed to keep up his run and make a tidy profit.
Prediction: City to close the gap on Chelsea at the top with a convincing win.
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