Through 25 minutes of Wednesday's Champions League semifinal second leg, Manchester City's heat map was nothing more or less than a giant exclamation mark on the fringes of the Real Madrid penalty area. That just about summed it up really.
It didn't matter that Madrid had given the past, present and future champions of England their toughest test of the season so far eight days ago. Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric were irrelevant on this night. This was all about City finally reaching the very apex of their trajectory in the Pep Guardiola era, their best performance of the Abu Dhabi era.
How they have got there is a matter of profound concern for English and European football. That century and change of Premier League charges would immediately dull the profundity of nights like this if City are unable to convince investigators of their innocence. Every great success that this club had in the last 15 years has brought with it ever more questions about the warping power of nation-state wealth applied to give Guardiola everything the best coach in the world could wish for.
It was the nagging hum in the background, not quite enough to distract you from the genius deployed by the 11 men in sky blue. Each player had a statement performance. Why do you pay £100 million for Jack Grealish? Because on nights like this, he will take on the responsibility to set the tenor of the game. Ilkay Gundogan ghosted into the penalty area, somehow registering more touches in the box than the entire Real Madrid team. Kyle Walker proved he didn't need the help he'd had in the first leg to quell Vinicius.
It wasn't even that Madrid were that bad. If it weren't for the result, Thibaut Courtois might reflect on this as one of the finest performances of his career. As he denied Erling Haaland in ever more elaborate fashion you might even have convinced yourself that Real Madrid had Manchester City just where they wanted them ... camped on the edge of their penalty area. They'd narrative them good and proper here.
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This City team, however, have ascended to a level where such petty considerations as their own insecurities are irrelevant. So what that Courtois delivered not one but two exceptional saves from Haaland? Bernardo Silva would simply deliver a shot that even the gigantic Belgian couldn't lay a paw on, baiting to go one way before slamming the ball in at the near post. Guardiola's previous iterations would have listened to their inner saboteur. You suspect that these days there are no voices in City heads, just the occasional chirp and beep of their internal Bluetooth pinging data from one node to the other.
The first half was as one-sided as any European semifinal, City might have been operating at the peak of their powers but it was all so easy for them that without the scoreboard and the Playstation adverts you might have convinced yourself this was an FA Cup third round tie against League One opposition, such was the gulf in quality. Thirteen shots to Madrid's one, 72 percent possession, Luka Modric failing to complete a pass in the attacking third.
This wasn't the Haaland team, the De Bruyne team, even the team of the four center backs. Everything and everyone was united in symphonic glory. Guardiola couldn't even bring himself to micromanage, just blowing jubilant kisses in the direction of Grealish, bear-hugging Haaland when he came off after the break. He seemed besotted.
Perhaps the second half was nothing more than City needing to test themselves in a different fashion, to stretch their collective muscles. The second time around, they opted to hold Madrid at arms' length out outside their own penalty area rather than their opponents. David Alaba's dipping free kick briefly challenged Ederson. That was it really.
Never has a VAR check felt more irrelevant than that which ultimately confirmed Eder Militao's deflecting of a Manuel Akanji header into the net would stand as City's third goal. Only four years ago City's hopes could be decided by a UEFA official on the shores of Lake Geneva trying to fathom whether Raheem Sterling had gone too soon behind the Tottenham line. Now they are immune to the fine margins. If that decision had gone against them they would have just got the third at a time that was convenient to them.
They are going to win the Premier League. They are going to win the FA Cup; they are an awful lot better than Manchester United. Barring the greatest performance Inter Milan ever deliver and an extremely ordinary one from them, they'll be European champions too. There is no stopping City.