For all the domestic success that Manchester City have accrued over the past decade or so, there is still one thing that alludes them and that is the ability to dine at the very top table of European football.
An ability that only comes around if you are considered the true elite of the game and although having a boatload of money will afford you some privileges, winning the UEFA Champions League is what matters the most.
Something that has alluded City to date and even with the eye-watering amount of transfer fees that have been spent in the pursuit of continental gold, the Etihad outfit are still to straddle the top step of the Champions League ladder.
Last season saw a sense of City against the footballing world at times and after being eventually cleared of a European ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the perfect plot twist would have been to win the 2020 edition of the continent’s premier club competition.
However, French outfit Lyon had other ideas in mind and with the Ligue 1 side dumping Pep Guardiola’s men out of the competition at the Quarterfinal stage, there was more soul searching for the likes of Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne.
A season that can only be considered what might have been and with only the Carabao Cup in their possession, it was more a case of the nearly men, rather than the men cheering their way to countless silverware victories.
Of course, the fact that UEFA’s initial European ban did not stick in the highest sporting courts, means that City’s second-place finish in last season’s Premier League was worthy of entry to the latest edition of the Champions League.
Entry that saw them paired at home with FC Porto in Matchday 1 of this season’s schedule and even though Porto’s Luis Diaz opened the scoring in the 14th minute, the hosts would kick on in the second half to win 3-1.
With Sergio Aguero levelling from the spot soon after and subsequently scoring his 40th goal in the competition, the two teams would go into the interval level and from here, it was City who found the additional gear required for victory.
Goals from Ilkay Gundogan and new boy Ferran Torres were enough to secure victory and in a group that also includes Olympiakos and Marseille, they should not have too much trouble in their bid to reach the knockout phase.
Should they do so, talk of winning this year’s competition will only begin to get louder and if you fancy an early flutter, Intertops, full review have nice odds for the team at the current price of 4/1 – one that makes them the current second favourites.
Second favourites because of the small matter of Bayern Munich and with them already showing the necessary signs of dominance that is required to defend their title, it might mean looking no further than the German giants.
Then again, the Champions League is a difficult trophy to win and even more difficult to defend, which means if this is to be the case, Bayern Munich are going to have to be at their absolute best once more.
Should they not manage to hit the same lofty heights of just a few months ago, it may open the door to their rivals and perhaps Manchester City may fare better without the weighty tag of outright favourites.
A tag that has proved to be more burden than benefit over the last few years and the weight of expectations has certainly crushed them, as they have watched the likes of Bayern, Real Madrid and Liverpool win such an illustrious prize.
With City investing in their defence over the course of the off-season and before the closure of the transfer window, there is a suggestion that this is perhaps a much more rounded rather than superstar squad.
Something that may be required to genuinely go all the way, as it is no good having an embarrassment of riches in the attacking third of the pitch, only to concede an embarrassing amount of goals at the opposite end.
If Guardiola can get a real squad ethos going and most importantly, manage Sergio Aguero’s fitness throughout the course of a congested season, City could be planning a trip to the Istanbul hosted final next May. With that said, there’s a lot of football still to be played before we get there.