Manchester City established their title credentials with an emphatic home win against arch-nemeses Manchester United. With neither side getting off to a flying start in the league, getting three points would have been big for both, but nobody could have anticipated just how badly City outplayed and outworked their visitors en route to what will surely become a famous 4-1 win.
City started as the better side and wasted no time in establishing a lead. The much-maligned Samir Nasri was the opener's architect, occupying Chris Smalling and playing a deft flick to Aleksandar Kolarov on the overload. Kolarov's swerving cross bent its way past the defence and onto the boot of Aguero, who sent a hooked volley past David de Gea and in for a 1-0 lead.
United didn't have much of a response. The defending champions, devoid of Robin van Persie thanks to injury, couldn't get any serious traction in the final third, and whenever they tried the hosts were able to counterattack. It was City who looked more likely to score again, and score again they did.
A corner kick was United's undoing. Nasri's delivery was met by Alvaro Negredo despite the attentions of a pair of defenders, and although the striker's header was off-target, it bounced up invitingly for Yaya Toure to bundle over the line.
Having conceded on the brink of halftime, the visitors decided to make it symmetrical by going 3-0 down immediately after the interval. Aguero was the man once more, slipping home a lofted ball from Negredo for his second of the match.
City were rampant and they got another in short order. A cross was again the source of United's undoing. Vincent Kompany bombed forward on the counterattack, leaving the visitors' defence overloaded. Nobody was able to pick up Nasri at the far post, and the former Arsenal man sent Jesus Navas' cross between de Gea's legs to make it 4-0.
Only a desperate piece of defending by Nemanja Vidic kept it to four as Negredo looked to pounce on yet another cross, while at the other end of the pitch United's first significant attacking move of the game ended up being lofted well over the ball by Wayne Rooney.
David Moyes decided that Tom Cleverley was the man to help limit the damage, swapping him for fellow England international Ashley Young and moving United into a 4-3-3. That move paid dividends and the visitors were able to get some purchase in City's half, but at 4-0 down the switch came too late to have any meaningful effect on the outcome of the match.
There was a chance or two for United to snatch a consolation goal, and after Patrice Evra hit the post Wayne Rooney managed to reduce the deficit to three with a 87th-minute free kick that fizzed straight into the top corner. The late surge will fool few, however -- this was a comprehensive, embarrassing defeat. City will be soaring.
Manchester City starting lineup (4-2-2-2): Joe Hart; Aleksandar Kolarov, Matija Nastasic, Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta; Fernandinho, Yaya Toure; Samir Nasri, Jesus Navas (James Milner, 71'); Sergio Aguero (Javi Garcia, 86'), Alvaro Negredo (Eden Dzeko 75').
Goals: Aguero 16' 47', Toure 45', Nasri 50'.
Manchester United starting lineup (4-2-3-1): David de Gea; Patrice Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling; Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini; Ashley Young (Tom Cleverley 52'), Wayne Rooney, Antonio Valencia; Danny Welbeck.
Goals: Rooney 86'.