Chelsea will win title - Mancini
Roberto Mancini has already conceded the Premier League title to Chelsea.
After spending more than £100m on new players this summer, it was felt Manchester City would be able to provide some sort of challenge for the championship, even if they eventually fell short.
Yet, after seeing his team fall seven points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's men, and then have his squad decimated by injury, Mancini has apparently thrown in the towel, not just for his own club, but the rest of the league as well.
"Chelsea are probably going to win the Premier League title easily," he said.
"They are the best team in the Premier League at the moment.
"They are a strong team, who have been playing together for many years, with a fantastic manager.
"They have worked to reach this situation."
It is quite possible Mancini did not quite mean his words to come out the way he did.
Nevertheless, it is quite baffling just five matches in to the season and on the eve of Chelsea's visit to Eastlands to defend their 100pc record.
Yet it seems Mancini does feel City are years behind Chelsea at present, even if they are making ground up fast.
"We must work hard to be their equals," he said.
"We can be a strong club in one or two years. But we must improve, month after month, year after year."
The City faithful might not be impressed by such talk. In midweek the Blues crashed out of the Carling Cup, a competition that many felt was the easiest way of ending a trophy drought that dates back to 1976.
"With the problems at this moment we couldn't play in four competitions," said Mancini.
Given the squad building they have undergone in the last couple of years, few will shed any tears at Mancini's complaints at being short of so many players.
Yet when he was assiduously piecing together his squad this summer, he did so on the basis he was buying for the future, as well as the present, believing the day would come when City could hold their heads up alongside Chelsea as one of the Premier League's top dogs.
"We have got strong players but we have also got young players," he said.
"We have one of the youngest squads in the Premier League.
"David Silva and Yaya Toure played in the Champions League for many years, Mario Balotelli won it with Inter, Aleksandar Kolarov and Jerome Boateng are international players.
"We have bought strong players. When they play together we can change everything."
However, Kolarov and Balotelli are out with long-term injuries after playing just one match. Boateng has not even managed that yet after aggravating a knee injury in a collision with an in-flight trolley.
Boateng has finally managed to get a full week's training under his belt but is badly lacking match practice.
Yet such is Mancini's desperate need for defenders, down to just three fit ones at the last count, he is among the options to fill the left-back role, along with the equally rusty Joleon Lescott, youngster Dedryck Boyata, James Milner and Gareth Barry.
"Joleon has worked with us for one day. He is not ready to play 90 minutes," said Mancini.
"Jerome has been working with us for one week. He is not ready to play 100pc.
"I do not know what I am going to do just yet. I will speak with Joleon and Jerome, but if they are not available I am not sure. Maybe Boyata, but I am not sure."
Emmanuel Adebayor should be fit enough to make the bench after a recent spell on the sidelines with a dead leg.
However, with Shaun Wright-Phillips joining Aleksandar Kolarov and Mario Balotelli on the sidelines with a knee injury, Mancini cannot believe his squad has so rapidly been torn apart.
"I am disappointed we have all these injuries at the moment," he said.
"I only have 11 players who are 100pc fit."