Pep Guardiola's flawless start as Manchester City manager has given way to something quite different. After 10 straight wins, City have gone a record-breaking six games without a win for the coach. It also is the first time since December 2008 that City have gone six games without a win in all competitions and the first time since 2012 they have completed a match without a single shot on target. Although the team sheets revealed who was keener to progress, Wednesday's 1-0 loss to Manchester United is yet another negative result to add to the growing list for the league leaders.
A first-half display of character from two youngsters, Pablo Maffeo and Aleix Garcia, promised much for the future. Although the latter ran out of steam in the second, Maffeo at right-back just kept on running in a performance of rich promise.
The lack of composure in the last third brought a paucity of attacking chances. Despite his incredible goal-scoring record, Kelechi Iheanacho looks far from the finished article when he is asked to start a match. Vincent Kompany's no-show after the break rings a heavy and gloomy bell, while none of the forward players looked interested in changing the game's flow.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- An all-time managerial low for the Catalan, who showed his dislike for the EFL Cup by fielding what amounted to a reserve side against a full-strength United lineup. As the competition's holders, this was a limp exit.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating.)
GK Willy Caballero, 7 -- Although some of his kicking out was inaccurate, he saved well to deny Paul Pogba, stretching to touch the Frenchman's shot onto the post.
DF Pablo Maffeo, 8 -- Still running his socks off in attack in injury time, the young right-back was the pick of the bunch for City. Enjoyed a lively start against Marcus Rashford and put in two critical blocks on Pogba and Rashford. Must be edging toward the starting XI with that performance against a strong Man United side.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 6 -- Looked untroubled in a slow first 20 minutes but was in the thick of the action in the second half without Kompany to steady the ship. Crucial block on Ibrahimovic but too keen to slide in once again.
DF Vincent Kompany, 6 -- Are we seeing the final chapter of the captain's career? Steady enough in the first half although his distribution was at times awful. Did not appear for the second, forcing City to use one of their substitutes at the back. "Vincent told me he could not play any more," said his manager.
DF Gael Clichy, 6 -- Understated. Pushed ahead of left-sided Otamendi at times and unable to make any impression on Antonio Valencia's right side.
MF Fernando, 6 -- A long-legged tussle with his opposite number 6, Pogba, was mostly even in the first half, but it became an unequal battle in the second as United pushed through the gaps.
MF Aleix Garcia, 7 -- Effortless first half from the youngster, totting up more touches of the ball than Pogba, Heavy-legged in the second half, though, as he dropped deeper and deeper to save his legs.
MF Nolito, 6 -- A frustrating evening spent running into cul-de-sacs. Loose with his passing but always willing, he was beginning to perk up when hooked for Sergio Aguero in the 70th minute.
MF Jesus Navas, 7 -- The archetypal game of two halves. Perhaps City's best hope in the first, he disappeared as a threat in the second as Luke Shaw got closer to him and played him out of the match.
MF Leroy Sane, 5 -- Never managed to get into the game at all. Ineffective going forward, loose in possession and swapped for Raheem Sterling after only 62 minutes.
FW Kelechi Iheanacho, 5 -- Offered little or no threat against a makeshift United central defence. His night was perfectly summed up by the award of a yellow card for slipping over. Had one reasonable chance at the end of the first half, but he dithered and the chance evaporated.
DF Aleksander Kolarov, 4 -- Forced substitution for Kompany at half-time, he proceeded to play horribly. Lax in his passing, caught in possession in the danger area twice and keen to hit the flag poles on the roof with his shooting. Another game to forget.
MF Raheem Sterling, 5 -- Came on for the ineffectual Sane after 62 minutes and failed to use his close control to open anything up. Played centrally to start with, then left after Sergio Aguero arrived, all to little visible effect.
FW Sergio Aguero, 5 -- Came on for Nolito after 70 minutes and posed little threat to an under-worked United defence.