Man City visit Chelsea still with much to learn
City desperately want to be where Chelsea are - top of Premier League, striving to make the final step in the Champions League and able to attract the best players and staff in the game.
They have made quick inroads in the off-pitch areas but have a long way to go to match them where it matters.
As Chelsea went down to a creditable 2-1 first-leg loss at Inter Milan in a match screened all around the world on Wednesday, City were slumping to an extra-time defeat at Stoke City in an attritional FA Cup replay.
City's Arab owners showed their impatience when they dismissed Mark Hughes earlier in the season and brought in Roberto Mancini with a clear remit.
After a bright start to his tenure the Italian has now had to deal with defeats by Everton and Hull City, a scratchy win over Bolton Wanderers and draws with Stoke and Liverpool - the latter a painful affair at Eastlands last Sunday when City managed only one worthwhile effort on goal.
Wednesday's feeble Cup defeat, which had the City fans besieging the phone-ins to berate Mancini for his negative tactics, makes a top-four finish even more important as the club's trophy drought rolls into its 35th year.
Chelsea go into the match one point ahead of Manchester United, with a game in hand, while City are embroiled in a desperate four-way battle for fourth.
Goals by Emmanuel Adebayor and Tevez gave them a 2-1 home win over the Londoners in December but while City have faded since then, Chelsea have picked up form since their mid-winter slump and will expect to gain revenge.
Manchester United are playing Aston Villa in the League Cup final on Sunday, opening the door for third-placed Arsenal to close ground if they can overcome a physical Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.
Tottenham Hotspur, sitting in fourth, host an Everton side who have taken the scalps of United and Chelsea in recent weeks, while Liverpool host Blackburn Rovers.
At the other end of the table bottom side Portsmouth will travel to Burnley possibly well on their way to relegation if, as expected, they are forced into administration and suffer an automatic nine-point deduction on Friday.
Burnley are one place above them, though their home form, where they have won six and drawn four of their 12 games, if reproduced on their travels would have had them pushing for Europe.
Bolton are above them on goal difference and are also involved in a relegation "six-pointer" at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers.