There is no questioning the quality of Manchester City. Several respected voices have described their performance at Carrow Road last night as one of the best they have ever seen from a visiting team and it’s a hard one to contest.
A brilliant team made up of brilliant individuals, playing brilliant football and all overseen by a brilliant coach.
I wasn’t able to make it to the game last night due to ill health but viewed through the prism of Sky Sports, it was, for the neutral, a footballing masterclass. But only for the neutral.
For us it was painful. Excruciating at times.
No one wants to see their own team so thoroughly outplayed and humiliated, but that was our City last night.
Yet, bizarrely and within our own limitations, we played quite well, especially in the first half when the ball was at times passed with purpose and intent. When the chance came, we played on the front foot and without fear.
In terms of performance level, it was several steps up on the Palace game and yet we were so thoroughly outplayed, outpassed and outgunned in every area and facet of the game, it was akin to watching the deliberately hapless Washington Generals suffer at the hands of the Harlem Globetrotter.
It felt uncomfortable.
It was a tough listen too as Sky’s commentator and summariser were tasked with striking that fine balance of not appearing too sympathetic while at the same time not sounding overly patronising.
In fairness, they just about managed it but to have to describe such a huge mismatch is a very different skill to that of describing a humdinger where two relatively evenly matched teams go toe-to-toe.
It’s important to say that it isn’t just our City who succumb to the might of Sheikh Mansour’s finest. In truth, there are only five or six club sides in the world who can safely go toe-to-toe with Guardiola’s men, so there was nothing to be ashamed of in being so soundly beaten last night.
But it didn’t feel right. Top-level sport is supposed to be all about competition. This wasn’t it.
The financial muscle at Man City’s disposal has skewed the playing field to such as extent, it’s become at times – for me at least – almost unwatchable.
That we somehow managed to overcome those odds two seasons ago is, I guess, why we do it, but those days appear more and more infrequent as time passes.
Perhaps the European Super League, where the footballing super powers can play each other six times a season for billion-dollar prizes at different locations across the globe, is the answer.
In terms of the game itself, for 45 minutes the Canaries did absolutely everything Dean Smith could have asked of them aside from one sliced Max Aarons clearance that fell conveniently to Raheem Sterling. But as that ball nestled inside Angus’ far post it felt like game over.
When Andre Marriner signaled that Phil Foden’s shot had crossed the line very early in the second half it was game over.
We can analyse our defensive shortcomings all day, but when under such constant and intense pressure it’s almost impossible to be foot and head perfect.
Mistakes are bound to occur and don’t even have to be obvious ones like missed tackles and mis-controls. A slightly wrong starting position can cost a goal when up against the best of the best, and Man City’s metronomic passing can mesmerize defenders into ball-watching.
It doesn’t help of course when Marinner decides to give a penalty for going shoulder to shoulder with a sky blue shirt – as if they need any more help – but we get used to being on the receiving end of those when up against the big six.
It also doesn’t help that we’re just six days away from potentially going through it all again when we go from Sheikh Mansour to Fenway Sports Group to be handed our backsides on another plate.
The name of the game has been to not suffer a humping that will halt the momentum built up over the course of January – and I’d like to think that was just about achieved last night.
Let’s hope that this time next Sunday I can still say the same.