City 2 - 0 FC Timisoara (City win 3-0 on aggregate)

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 26: Dedryck Boyata of Manchester City scores his team's second goal during the Europa League playoff second leg tie against FC Timisoara at the City of Manchester Stadium on August 26 2010 in Manchester, England. Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images.

If there were one or two doubts ahead of tonight's game, carrying only a slender 1-0 lead from the first leg, well, we needn't have worried.

A night that began slowly, ended with a comfortable passage through to tomorrows draw for the group stage phase and a chance to look ahead and assess the very real opportunity that this years tournament presents. 

Timisoara, perhaps overawed by more illustrious opponenets, failed to attempt to seize any sort of initiative in the game and once the initial sluggishness had been overcome, we were left with another assured and professional performance that is fast becoming a familiar sight this season.

As anticipated, Roberto Mancini made a number of changes to the side following Monday's win against Liverpool. Notably, and on the back of Roberto Mancini's comments this week, in came Jo for his first start for nineteen months, whilst Dedryck Boyata's inclusion underlined how highly he is rated at the club (and explains why Nedum Onouha was allowed to depart).

It was telling however that Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and Nigel de Jong all started - becoming the only players to start all four games this season - showing that despite changes elsewhere, Mancini values their presence and what they bring in terms of reliability and consistency.

It meant that the side operated with a 4-2-3-1 formation, Jo and Shaun Wright-Phillips in an advanced three along with David Silva behind Emmanuel Adebayor. Perhaps as expected, it was a laboured opening with a large part of the side seeing their first significant action of the season. Timisoara, however, made little impact, and although they carved out one or two opportunities did not test  Hart.

Given the number of changes to the side, with many players getting their first significant action of the season, it was perhaps inevitable that the opening was a little off the pace. With Nigel de Jong and Patrick Vieira offering little early on in the shape of attacking play, David Silva was forced deep and wide, cutting him off from the more attack.

If Vieira was off the pace early, as the half advanced so did he. Seeing more of the ball, he began to assert some control on the evening, freeing Silva and quickening the pace of the performance. And it was Vieira's expertly measured ball through to Wright-Phillips that opening the scoring, all but ending the tie.

The second half showed even more of a marked improvement. The side looked far more fluid, controlled and dangerous in attack. David Silva came more to the fore, confident in the play of Vieira behind him he buzzed around the front line, always looking for the incisive ball through to the front man. He looks to have the capability to really be able to forge a partnership with Carlos Tevez.

It was Silva who delivered the second of the night. A flighted free kick to the far post eluding the Timisoara goalkeeper for Dedryck Boyata - delivering another precocious performance - to smartly head home at the far post.

At 2-0, this even afforded Mancini the opportunity to spell Nigel de Jong - needed for battles - ahead, with Greg Cunningham getting some playing time and Pablo Zabelata the chance to feature in his third position of this fledgling season.

Of course it is easy to dismiss Timisoara, and they presented little challenge over the two legs, but it has highlighted the value of the squad that has been assembled, that with what looks to be a favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, there are players and options who can seamlessly fit into the line-up when required. There is still a concern in attack, with Jo proving he has a long way to go to complete his rehabilitation, whilst Emmanuel Adebayor has yet to convince he quite fits into this system.

Looking at the potential list of opponents though - with names such as Juventus, PSV, Dortmund, Sevilla, Liverpool, the competition has a far stronger feel to it this season, but despite the priority obviously being the Premier League, there is reason to believe that a final appearance at Lansdowne Road is more than a possibility.

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