WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26: Adam Johnson (L) of Manchester scores his sides first goal during the Carling Cup Fourth Round match at Molineux on October 26, 2011 in Wolverhampton, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
No sign of any let up then. Roberto Mancini may have changed the entire starting side from Sunday's derby win but the end result remained the same. There was a slight wobble when Wolves took the lead (the first time City have trailed at any stage this season in domestic competitions) but once the much-changed side steadied themselves they quickly found their stride. Wolves were hit with a three-goal burst before the break that eclipsed Sunday's late salvo (the three at Molineux only 230 seconds apart) that put City in control. It was a result that continued the theme of recent performances and evidenced the confident air running through the side at the moment.
When Mancini fielded a fringe side at West Brom in last years competition City exited the competition with a dreary 2-1 defeat. That night saw a very young and inexperienced line-up punctuated with the likes of Jo and Roque Santa Cruz and that told Mancini plenty about the strength in depth - or lack thereof - at his disposal. Although the entire side was changed last night, Mancini could still bring in Pablo Zabaleta, Aleksandar Kolarov, Kolo Toure, Nigel de Jong, Samir Nasri, Adam Johnson and Edin Dzeko: all players who have started a number of games for the club and underline the quality the Italian has available to him.
Not quite one for the kids then but amongst the more recognised faces, Stefan Savic, Abdul Razak, Luca Scapuzzi, Denis Suarez and Karim Rekik saw some valuable playing time. All showed promise to some degree but in a cameo role as a substitute Suarez stood out. At just seventeen years of age, the Spaniard has a precociousness about his play, looks extremely composed in possession and always seemed to have time and space. He comes with a big reputation and on the last nights evidence it is easy to see why.
The past week has been a strange one for Adam Johnson. Substituted on the half hour mark against Villarreal, he then failed to make even the bench on Sunday but returned to the side to claim the man of the match award, notching a goal and an assist in the process. Still, Mancini was not entirely satisfied:
"I think Adam Johnson can be one of the best wingers in Europe, but I think he can do more. I do not like it when players think they have scored one goal and made one goal and so they can stop. I prefer them to think they want to score another, make another, and still track back to defend. For Wolves' second goal he should have run back. He can still improve this."
It may appear harsh but he does have a point and there is the suggestion that these are the type of games - against mid-tier Premier League opposition - that Johnson thrives in, but fails to impact when the stakes are higher. Yet, and as Mancini observed, he provides an option for him that no-one else at the club does so any talk of him being cast aside is surely misguided.
Plenty of positives then from last night but there are concerns that continue over the defence. Despite some of the high scoring wins this season Mancini has bemoaned the fact that needless goals have been conceded. Whilst Savic looked comfortable enough in possession he does lack a degree of strength but the real concern was with the performance of Kolo Toure. Toure was out of position on occasion and his timing was also awry. Perhaps it may have been underestimated quite how long it would take him to return to form after serving his suspension (where not only could he not play, but could not train with the side) and he looks some way from challenging the Vincent Kompany/Joleon Lescott partnership; which in turn highlights the problem the side may face if Kompany in particular was to go down with a an injury at any point.