MAN CITY 4
(Edin Dzeko 64, 72, Stevan Jovetic 89, Yaya Toure 90+3)
ASTON VILLA 0
Manchester City took a great stride towards their second Premier League trophy yesterday morning (Singapore time), moving so close that they can smell the silver polish.
Only defeat by West Ham on Sunday would leave the door open for Liverpool now and, given that they have dropped just five points at the Etihad all season, that seems highly unlikely.
Liverpool's title challenge was built on breathtaking reckless abandon, but City's was based on overwhelming strength in every department.
No injuries could hurt them, no loss of form could slow them.
In this, there was no better example than Edin Dzeko.
The Bosnian (right) has not always been a natural fit at City.
Recruited at great expense from Wolfsburg in January 2011, he scored only twice in the league in his first half-season and floundered under Roberto Mancini's authoritative rule.
A player more suited to leading the line with a swifter partner, he hasn't always enjoyed City's system.
But this season, he has always been there when they needed him.
City were struggling against Aston Villa for over an hour.
Faced with a five-man defence, augmented with a deep lying midfield, they found it hard to make space.
All the early running came down the flanks where the tireless Pablo Zabaleta gave everything to breach the backline, but the few opportunities he carved out were squandered, the worst miss coming from Samir Nasri just before the break.
But, as the first hour ticked over, Dzeko stepped up to make the difference, powering into the box and forcing a shot home to send the Etihad into delirium.
Even with all of their money, even with all of their superstars, the fans there remember well their difficult past and all the times when everything went horribly wrong. But not this time.
Dzeko might have felt that he would be out of favour this year.