Just before Manchester City's match with Newcastle United, City were given an opportunity thanks to some dropped points from Chelsea. City made sure to take full advantage of the mistakes of Jose Mourinho's club (and possibly the officials of the Chelsea/Burnley match) by putting their game away with three goals in the first 20 minutes to get within five points of the Premier League leaders.
It was a match filled with pleasant surprises, cause for optimism, and an uncharacteristic lack of stress from City. So what have we learned from today's thrashing of Newcastle?
1. It was only Newcastle, but it was nice nonetheless
City looked tremendous today in the first match back for Yaya Toure, and the first match in sky blue for Wilfried Bony, which is a great sign. But it's important not to get too excited about a win over a midtable club with a new manager, when City have fixtures coming up against Barcelona, Liverpool, United, Spurs, and Southampton.
With that said, City have struggled in recent weeks against the likes of Hull and Middlesbrough, so seeing them come out and boss a game from start to finish for the first time in a long time was a sight for sore eyes.
2. Dzeko back!
When Edin Dzeko was picked to be in Manuel Pellegrini's Champions League squad over Stevan Jovetic, many (myself included) were upset about it. He looked too slow and too out of form to justify the choice at the time, so naturally he repaid Pellegrini with a brilliant performance today, one in which he had a hand in all three of City's first half goals.
Not even a minute into the match, Dzeko was chasing down an errant ball and drawing a penalty. Just 20 minutes later, he'd helped set up Nasri for City's second, and beautifully guided home one of his own for the third.
If there was a striker that people wanted to see lined up with Sergio Aguero today, it was probably City debutante Wilfried Bony, who started the match on the bench while Dzeko started. But it was Dzeko's resourcefulness in the penalty area that stole the show today, which will need to continue for City to keep their title hopes alive.
Dzeko's performance also further serves to bury Stevan Jovetic, who didn't even make the 18 today, but that's another discussion for another time.
3. So you're telling me there's a chance
Coming into today's matches, it was wholly expected that Chelsea would tear Burnley to shreds, giving City no opportunity to gain any points in the title race. But, thanks to some interesting officiating and a lapse in judgement from Nemanja Matic, Chelsea left two points on the table and let City get back within five points.
As we've previously mentioned, Chelsea's run in is a bit tricky, so their slip up at home today against a bottom feeder is a nice boost to City's still slim chances. But despite being slim, City's chances still exist, and keeping them alive is the name of the game for City over these final months.
Surely we all took something different away from today's game. Feel free to add yours below.