What could be a long and arduous path to Lansdowne Road begins tonight in Romania, with the Europa League qualifier against FC Timisoara.
Little is known of the opposition, but since the draw was first made they do look to be a stronger side than first anticipated. That said, there should be no circumstances whereby City do not progress to the group stages and really commence their bid to win a competition that they have a very real chance of winning.
It appears that Roberto Mancini will make only minor changes, Aleksandar Korlalov being one, and whilst Mario Balotelli is available, I'd expect him to begin on the bench. The logic is that Mancini fields a more or less full-strength side, with the importance of building familiarity an important factor. Far better to put the tie to bed this evening - with the comfort of an extra days rest before Liverpool on Monday evening - and then field a 'second string' side in the return leg.
You do wonder if Mancini may opt for a less cautious formation and operate with a 4-4-2 line-up this evening (that would see Emannuel Adebayor restored), but regardless, you would imagine to come away with a two goal advantage would be viewed as a satisfactory evening.