Mancini upbeat despite bore draw
What had been billed as the most interesting Manchester derby in years, as City's expensive team aimed to prove they could stand shoulder to shoulder with their more decorated neighbours, fell flat compared with last season's thrillers.
Three times last term the local bragging rights were determined by late goals, all in United's favour, and with an away draw the red side of Manchester stayed in the ascendancy.
City manager Roberto Mancini, whose defensive approach has often been questioned by fans, looked on the bright side despite few chances for either side in a slow-paced match.
"We are improving from last year," he told a news conference. "(We got) one point tonight, (we got) zero points last year when we scored goals but we lost."
Asked if his team were closing the class gap on United, Mancini said: "We need more time, but I think so."
United will be happier with the point although both teams lost ground on leaders Chelsea, who beat neighbours Fulham 1-0 to go four points clear of Sir Alex Ferguson's side who are still unbeaten. City stayed fourth, seven points adrift of Chelsea.
"There was probably too much tension in the build-up to the match and it probably wasn't as open as people thought it would be," Ferguson told Sky.
Neither half featured much to impress England manager Fabio Capello, who was deep in discussion with world number one golfer Lee Westwood as both sides produced the football equivalent of bogeys.
The best chance of the first half fell to former United forward Carlos Tevez when his powerful free-kick looked to be whizzing straight for the top corner before an outstretched Edwin van der Sar tipped it wide.
United had earlier gone close when Patrice Evra cut through the City defence but the French defender's right-footed shot went straight into Joe Hart's arms.
The visitors had the better possession but seemed lacking in energy, as if they had not quite got over the flu virus that had hit many of them over the last week.
Dimitar Berbatov could not control his first touch as the ball bounced too high and his right-footed shot was easily taken by Hart just before half-time, while at the other end Tevez did a lot of running but most of it in vain.
Lots of City fans were wearing large blue paper glasses but even those could not make events on the pitch look any better as both sides continued to stay back in numbers in the second half.
When Tevez had done all the work to run along a quarter of the pitch and beaten his markers only to fluff what should have been an easy shot across goal, it summed up the evening.
There were some groans as it went into four added minutes, with some fans fearing another late goal and others simply unable to