A difficult week for Roberto Mancini ended on a bad note as City let slip an opportunity and turned in a performance that left plenty of questions to be answered.
Having dealt with defeat to Arsenal, questions over a drinking culture and jnjury to Carlos Tevez, it had been a positive start at Molineux as the revamped front line - David Silva and Mario Balotelli floating behind Emmanuel Adebayor - were impressive. Lively, creative and ready to fight. It was no surprise then that City went ahead with Adebayor's penalty after Silva had been fouled; a wonderful piece of skill to drag the ball back when all were expecting a cross.
Rather than a signal to kick on and put the game beyond reproach, it was Wolves who seized the initiative. Billed in the press as a combative, battling outfit who border on the verge of legality with their play, they were inventive, incisive and full of pace out wide. The justly got back in the game when Milijas's shot went beyond Hart's dive and ended the half with their tails well and truly up.
The hope was that the break would take the sting out of Wolves play, allow City to recover, regroup and return to the play they displayed at the opening of the game that was typified with crisp passing, pace and plenty of movement.
However, it was certainly as abject and listless a performance as seen so far this season. Gone was the early movement and inventiveness as David Silva and James Milner aside there was a lack of leadership and willingness shown throughout the side.
The bedrocks of the season so far - a solid central defensive partnership and a dominant midfield trio were nowhere to be seen. Although Kolo Toure returned to partner Vincent Kompany, they lacked the authority and presence shown in games earlier in the season when they posted a series of clean sheet. In midfield, without Nigel de Jong the trio looked completely overwhelmed by their counterparts. Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry in particular lacked any sort of poise and presence, allowing Wolves to continually maraud down the wings to great effect, with both Micah Richards and Jerome Boateng having a torrid afternoon.
Roberto Mancini's 'in-game' management has been effective since his arrival, but although Adam Johnson was sparky and impacted on the game, the decision to withdraw Adebayor for Pablo Zabaleta when Mario Balotelli was undestandably fading was a strange one. Moreover, the side lacked cohesion and balance and as the game wore on, the approach was lackadaisical, players were second to the ball and there was little creativity with balls continually pumped into the box.
Here, the absence of Tevez became even more stark as game wore on. Time and again, the Argentinian has rescued points and won games, but without him on the pitch it was not just the fans who sensed a way back into the game was unlikely. As much as the side boasts undoubted quality, the feeling is that he is an irreplaceable feature of the side.
For the most part this season, performances have been positive and the position in the league table has been reflective of this. Mancini has now seen back to back defeats in the league with the unwanted, off-field distractions capping a difficult week.
At the quarter point, the side are well placed in the top four, but hopes of a title charge have been tempered as six points have been dropped in comparison to Chelsea the past week and it will be a test for Mancini to recover and regroup from the bumps experienced over the past week; a big test indeed.