Given the way the race for fourth spot is shaping up, it is going to be a matter of fine margins in terms of deciding who makes it and who misses out.
Quite how fine remains to be seen but the significance of today's late, late equaliser which rescued a valuable point cannot be underestimated - particularly given the weekends other results. The point gained ensures that with our game in hand - which of course cannot be taken for granted - means the chance to go back into fourth spot is very firmly still in our hands.
Roberto Mancini called it a "game of two halves" and there is no doubt that there was a huge contrast between the first forty-five minutes and those that followed it.
Coming off the back of a fifteen day break, whilst the legs were fresh, the minds were not. Once again, we were slow starters and Sunderland - buoyed by their win the previous weekend which ended a miserable stretch of results - were full of confidence and backed by a vociferous crowd.
They got their reward after only eight minutes through a smart header by Kenwyn Jones. It was an impressive finish, but Kompany and Lescott will be questioning each other as to exactly who should have picked his run up. Rather than spur us on, we reverted to type. A listless and ill-disciplined half followed with too many mistakes made and bookings accumulated.
The half-time whistle saw Sunderland lead and deservedly so.
Rather than a complete transformation as the second half whistle went, it was only after the introduction of Patrick Vieira that we were really got a foothold in the game. Vieira, much maligned during his brief career to date, was an imposing figure and saw plenty of the ball. the suspension and break between games may well have allowed him to get back to full fitness. His passing was crisp and he perhaps today displayed the player Mancini had in mind when he brought him to the club. This also brought Bellamy and Wright-Phillips into the game and we began to dominate, with Sunderland looking to desperately hold on.
The chances began to flow and Craig Gordon staked his claim for the man of the match with a series of close range saves from Wright-Phillips, Tevez and Bellamy (multiple times) and his heroics appeared to have ensured sunderland would take the points.
For all the talent that has been accumulated at the club over the past eighteen months, what has become apparant is this side does have a fighting spirt about it and it was noticeable that although met with a frustrating response from a stout Sunderland defence, the team kept pressing to get something from the game. Teams of the past may have accepted a 1-0 defeat as one of those guys, where it was perhaps not meant to be despite the dominance in the second half.
In injury time, substitute Adam Johnson picked the ball up from a cleared corner and with screams of 'hit it' ringing in his ears, kept his composure when a snatched shot semed the likely outcome and curled the ball beautifully into the top corner to earn a much deserved point.
One that could be hugely significant come the end of the season.