MANCHESTER ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Patrick Vieira of Manchester City scores the opening goal past Stuart Nelson of Notts County during the FA Cup sponsored by E.On 4th Round replay match between Manchester City and Notts County at City of Manchester Stadium on February 20 2011 in Manchester England. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
I suppose as 5-0 wins go, it was fairly flattering on the whole.
City certainly took their time to get a foothold in the game but ultimately ran out comfortable winners with a flurry of goals over the final minutes to eventually brush aside lower league opposition.
Notts County came out fast; the polar opposite of City who were sluggish and disjointed, lacking in both fluidity and creativity, David Silva excepted of course. There were not wholesale changes from Roberto Mancini but there were was a notable start for Mario Balotelli (more of him later) whilst Cup 'specialist' Patrick Vieira (more of him later too) lined up from the start.
In the midst of a run of fixtures (games thick and fast at weekend and midweek at the moment) could it even have been a ploy to sit and allow the inevitable wave of pressure early, before shifting gears? A cause, rather than effect of playing a number of tough games in quick succession? A risky approach if so, and either way they were lucky to not go behind when Hawley's shot came back off the post with Hart beaten.
City have been poor from set pieces this season but the game was effectively won with a bracer from Patrick Vieira either side of half-time (redeeming what was a very average display) that took the sting out of the game. With a couple of substitutes (particularly Carlos Tevez for an unamused Balotelli) later in the game City grew in confidence and as Notts County tired, City prospered further. Goals from Tevez, Edin Dzeko and a deserved final one for Micah Richards put a bit of gloss on a result that was in truth harsh on the visitors who had clearly run out of steam.
At the half, with frustrations growing in the stadium it was difficult to contemplate taking any positives from the game but the second-half was altogether a better showing. More purposeful, there was greater intent and invention (perhaps evidence for my theory?) with the goal providing the platform and confidence to press on.
Dzeko I thought was lively, the second half in particular and there as positive signs in terms of a partnership with Tevez (each assisting on the other's goal). He showed good link up play, strength, the ability to use team-mates well and displayed good technique in the air. He should have added further when he missed a one on one but his best showing in blue.
Micah Richards was again positive going forward. He hasn't quite answered the questions defensively yet but his on song from an attacking standpoint at present. I'm looking forward to seeing him live (as opposed to TV) to get a better view of his current form.
The side showed yet again what it can do with a lead, with the record posted this season evidence enough of their strength in this regard but they haven't yet confounded those who feel the side struggles when chasing a game, Yesterday again, (like on Thursday evening) the side does is lacking in urgency at times, looking almost pedestrian and had they fallen behind it may well have been a different outcome.
This is certainly something that may well come into play on Thursday in the return leg against Aris, poised precariously at 0-0 where they can ill-afford mistakes.
But for now, victory means we play Aston Villa at home in round 5, with a visit of either Everton or Reading to come in the last eight.