Sergio Aguero and Manchester City rediscovered their touch as the champions turned on the style in the second half to win 4-1 at Stoke.
Aguero struck twice as City won for the first time in five Premier League games to keep some pressure on Chelsea at the top of the table.
Aguero's first strike in six games since returning from injury was cancelled out by Peter Crouch before the break but he grabbed a second from the penalty spot after James Milner had put City back ahead. Samir Nasri claimed the fourth with a fine strike 14 minutes from time.
The first half was a compelling affair but both sides might have had more than a goal apiece after efforts were ruled out at each end.
Crouch was first denied by an offside flag and Aguero had what would then have been his second goal of the evening chalked off in confusing circumstances on the stroke of half-time.
Handball was the offence, although it was only the faintest of touches and possibly not deliberate.
But City reacted well to the controversy and finally showed some champion quality after a disappointing few weeks by running in three second-half goals.
Milner scoring a header in the 55th, Aguero converting a 70th-minute penalty after David Silva was fouled, and Nasri completing victory in the 76th.
stoke 1 manchester city 4