THIS was a night when the context of the occasion outranked the consequence of the game.
It was about having the current Premier League champions in Thomond Park, watched by 20,672 people from Limerick and the surrounding areas, with buses coming from as far as Ballybunion and Kilkee.
Roberto Mancini's mixture of established stars and aspiring youngsters strolled to a comfortable victory. But there were no losers here.
For Limerick FC and their owner, Pat O'Sullivan, this meant a lot. To make this fixture happen, they lost a battle, but won the war.
The origins can be traced back to the fraught, senseless summer of 2010 when Limerick had agreed a deal with Barcelona to play a friendly at this venue, only for the FAI to block the fixture for reasons that, effectively, had a large amount to do with self-interest.
It turned out that the association were engaged in futile attempts to bring Barcelona to Dublin and were also conscious that the arrival of Lionel Messi in Limerick might detract from the attraction of having him present with his Argentina colleagues for the grand opening of the Aviva Stadium.
As the landlords of football in this country, they have the power to refuse guests. All games in this jurisdiction must be sanctioned by the governing body.
This was a spectacular own goal, made worse by contradictory statements about rights agreements preventing games of a certain capacity and, laughably, an initial suggestion that League of Ireland fixture rearrangements were a factor in denying the south-west region a chance to see the greatest club team in the world.
Limerick fought the injustice, and the matter ended up in the High Court. Part of the arbitration settlement was that the Shannonsiders could host one high-profile friendly every year in Thomond. And so, the pathway for last night was cleared.
However, the manner in which the Premier League champions came to be the opposition is another story that is intertwined with Irish football's troubled state.
But that competition failed to ignite interest and, a promoter who was central to the project, Ennis native Damien O'Brien, was left in a difficult position.
He had also invested money in the FAI's Emerging Talent programme but he became disillusioned with the organisation, and went his own way.
With the main drivers of the Super Cup, Endemol, taking a step back, the FAI's €1m-per-year deal was no more.
O'Brien tried to set up his own tournament in Limerick instead, in conjunction with John Cantwell from Thomond Park, but the FAI blocked that initiative, claiming they had an alternative plan in the pipeline.
That never came to pass. The only event of note in the Aviva this summer was the Madonna concert and that, by all accounts, turned out to be music's version of the Carling Nations Cup.
O'Brien's company, Iconic Sports Worldwide, retain strong links with Manchester City and his contacts there were aware of the situation.
He was conscious that Limerick FC had permission for one marquee fixture so he worked on a dual arrangement with O'Sullivan to add this game to City's hectic pre-season schedule.
In the end, not all the marquee names were present, but City did include their senior French and English players from Euro 2012 -- Joleon Lescott, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy and James Milner ( Joe Hart was an unused sub), the unsettled Edin Dzeko and Roque Santa Cruz, plus the highly regarded Spanish teenager Denis Suarez.
Not a bad show, all things considered. Much more than the FAI managed to rustle up anyway.
So, this was Limerick's day. In the week where the FAI's latest round of pay cuts bred consternation within its own corridors, some would be tempted to call it karma.
O'Sullivan took to the pitch beforehand, surveyed the scene and proclaimed that "it just goes to show what the people of Limerick can do if we work together".
So while the club may feel unsure of its own role within the wider Irish football community, the real battle is to establish itself in the hearts and minds of sports fans in their locality.
Only 1,000 people attended last Friday's important League of Ireland First Division clash against promotion rivals Longford, but that is an improvement on the norm.
The facilities at their rented home Jackman Park are so poor that, deep down, the club know that they can't really expect much better once they are in the second tier.
The bigger picture is their attempts to move back to their spiritual home in Markets Field.
JP McManus has been supportive of that project, and it is on course for next year.
It may not be ready for March, however, so if they do secure promotion to the top flight, then securing a licence will be a challenge.
Starting their campaign in Thomond is one option; temporary stays in Galway or Cork are another. Whatever option they choose, it will have to be approved by the FAI.
Ultimately, the club's ambition is that some of the people who watched their first ever Limerick FC match last night may be tempted to visit a refurbished Market's Field.
While the hordes descended on Thomond to watch Mancini's men, large swathes wound up rooting for the locals. Considering Pat Scully's side were involved in that crucial match against Longford and face a trip to Dublin tonight for an EA Sports Cup semi- final with Shamrock Rovers, their careful attitude to this fixture was understandable.
And they still managed to lose goalkeeper Dave Ryan to injury just before half-time after Dzeko had swept in City's third goal.
Dzeko had earlier opening the scoring from close range, before Dedryck Boyata advanced from his defensive berth to stroke in a second after the natives failed to competently defend a corner-kick.
There was less activity on the pitch after the interval, with both managers emptying their benches.
Eventually, City nabbed a fourth in the 77th minute, with Luca Scapuzzi slotting home after further messing in the Limerick rearguard.
That was the end of the scoring on the night, with both teams afforded a warm ovation from the attendance at the final whistle as local youths flooded the pitch.
Come next year, another high-profile opponent will embrace these parts. By then, Limerick football should be in a better place.
Limerick -- D Ryan (Cusack 45, Barry Ryan 70); Kluciar (Sheedy 57), Purcell (Guthrie 38), Treacy (Cowpar 73), Tracy; Sheehan (Kelly 45), Gamble (Behan 45),Judge (McGrath 60), McGann (Whitehead 66); Bradley (Brosnan 45; O'Brien 79); Foley (Coughlan 45).
Manchester City -- Pantilimon; Boyata, Lescott, Clichy; Milner (Mancini 73), Evans (Wabara 57), Suarez, McGivern (Lopes 45); Nasri (Scapuzzi 31); Santa Cruz (Facey 73), Dzeko (Bunn 70).