Sergio Aguero then volleyed over on 25 minutes at what proved to be the beginning of a spell in which the Blues appeared almost to set up camp in the final third. Only dogged United defending – epitomised by Rio Ferdinand's body-on-the-line block to deny Aguero 10 minutes before the interval – prevented the home side from taking the lead.
United's firecracker start had been reduced to a flickering ember by the time fourth offical Mike Jones raised his board to indicate two minutes' added time at the end of the first half. And it was extinguished entirely just seconds later when Vincent Kompany rose to head home David Silva's right-wing corner-kick – City's sixth corner of the game – to give the Blues the lead. It would later prove decisive.
The goal had been coming, sure. But to concede with so little time remaining in the first half seemed to compound the blow. Still, there were no panic substitutions at the break and United began the second period in positive fashion.
A succession of corners failed to yield a clear-cut chance, though, and Sir Alex switched to 4-4-2 just before the hour mark. Park was sacrificed for Danny Welbeck to provide United with more attacking impetus, but it was City who almost scored a second when Yaya Toure drilled a ball across the six-yard box and De Gea was forced to clear with his feet.
Welbeck's introduction succeeded in briefly penning City back and, sure enough, Mancini even withdrew one of his strikers (Tevez) and sent on