After securing their fourth Premier League title in the last five years, matching anything Sir Alex Ferguson did in the same timeframe, Pep Guardiola may just be on the verge of a domination never before seen in the Premier League era.
That is certainly the ominous conclusion many have drawn now that Erling Haaland, the most exciting player of his generation, has agreed to join the club and fix the one problem in the current Manchester City team.
But there is no guarantee that the transfer will work. On the face of it, Haaland and Guardiola are not a perfect fit. In fact the young striker does not conform to any of the ideals we have been used to seeing at Man City over the last half-decade.
Will it really be the final piece of the jigsaw, or is this a mistake that forms part of a curious new strategy for Man City's owners, following the attempts to sign Jack Grealish, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Paul Pogba?
Haaland fixes a 21/22 flaw
Although Man City's season has been a success, at 0-2 against Aston Villa with 15 minutes to go on Sunday, they were staring down the barrel of a trophy-less year. Had that happened, attention would have been drawn to their failure to sign a striker last summer. Some have praised Guardiola's genius for making a striker-less system work, but it was never the plan, hence the pursuit of Harry Kane last summer.
In various matches this season, including the four draws against Southampton and Crystal Palace, Man City have looked stale when up against a deep defence. In these moments, what they have needed isn't so much a finisher as a willing runner. Playing entirely in front of the opponent, City have lacked someone who will make the right runs so that the playmakers have the opportunity to create chances.
Clearly, Haaland fixes this. In fact, it could be argued that Man City have been overly stacked with tens recently, and therefore sacrificing one for a penalty-box player won't be a problem in terms of the team's build-up play.
When you tie that to Haaland's poaching, and how often in the past City have looked to tee up tap-ins, there is a chance the Norwegian scores 27 or more league goals, priced at 15/8.
There are also many times in Man City matches when their high pressing leads to high turnovers. Whereas in 2021/22 they have tended to recycle possession, Haaland - schooled by Borussia Dortmund - will give a directness that allows Man City to play in the transition. The Golden Boot, at 7/2, is in his grasp.
Haaland not great outside the box
The flip side is that Haaland may take away as much as he gives, reflecting the way in which Romelu Lukaku struggled to settle at Chelsea despite supposedly being the missing piece in the puzzle. Haaland's finishing will bring him goals, but without the link-up play in deeper areas, can Man City continue to dominate like they do now?
Over the last three seasons Haaland has steadily improved on a host of metrics, including passes per 90 (up from 17.8 to 20.5), shot-creating actions per 90 (up from 2.12 to 2.67), assists (up from two to eight), and pressures per 90 (up from 11.9 to 13.0). However, these numbers are going up only slightly, and Haaland remains poor outside the box compared to other top strikers.
Compared to forwards across Europe over the last 365 days, he is in the 44th percentile for passes attempted, 27th percentile for pressures, and 43rd percentile for touches, per FBRef. In other words, Haaland really doesn't do much outside the box or in terms of pressing from the front.
Of course, Guardiola will expect Haaland to adapt his game, and known as an intelligent and hard-working player there is a good chance that - with time - he will fit in. But that means we should expect a relatively slow start, making it unlikely he will score in City's first three games of the season, priced at 5/1.
But City will adapt to Haaland
But there is a twist that is worthy of discussion. People tend to falsely believe that Guardiola is dogmatic in his tactical philosophy when in fact he has a history of changing the intricacies to suit the players at his disposal.
For example, Guardiola played a more direct and wing-focused game at Bayern Munich to accommodate Frank Ribery and Arjen Robben.
Note too that Kevin de Bruyne has not had his wings clipped, and remains free both to drive forward in possession and to cross the ball frequently into the box. Consequently, we should anticipate the Man City team adapting to Haaland just as much as the other way round.
Haaland's runs, his speed, and his desire to constantly play on the shoulder of the last line will encourage De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva to become more direct. We may, in fact, see a very different style of football emerge as Joao Cancelo hits long balls from deep or De Bruyne finds a way to cross even more often than before.
There is no way of knowing whether that will work, or whether Haaland will be too much of a disruption to the normal order to hit the ground running. But considering Guardiola and Haaland are both world-class operators, and given the young striker joins a club already on a high, there is more chance of it working than not.