LONDON - Normal service has been resumed, according to Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini, after his side rediscovered their free-scoring touch to beat Stoke City 4-1 and halt a worrying form slump on Wednesday.
City have endured a miserable start to the year but the swashbuckling style that had gone AWOL to leave them seven points behind league leaders Chelsea was back in evidence as Sergio Aguero scored twice in their first victory since Jan 4.
After failing to win their last four league matches as well as suffering a shock home FA Cup defeat by Middlesbrough, this was a welcome tonic to soothe nervous fans and keep City on the coat-tails of Jose Mourinho's side.
"We returned to our normal performance, especially in the second half. We scored three goals in the second half and had more chances," City manager Manuel Pellegrini told the BBC.
"It is important, not just the score, but also because it is not easy to score four goals at Stoke. They have been the difficult team for us to score against while I have been here. It is a tough place to come. The most important thing was to win and in the way we did today."
The victory also represented a return to form for Aguero, who found the net for the first time since Dec 3 when he put City ahead after 33 minutes.
Having missed a month with a knee injury, the Argentine suffered a rare dry spell, going five games without scoring since returning in January.
But he drilled the ball past Asmir Begovic following a tenacious run to open the scoring and converted a penalty after City had retaken the lead through James Milner following Peter Crouch's leveller for Stoke.
Samir Nasri rounded off the scoring. "It is important (that Aguero scored two goals) because the more he plays the more he will return to his performance level," Pellegrini told Sky Sports.
"He is coming back into the team after one month out injured and every game he improves a little bit more and that is important for him."
City will welcome back midfielder Yaya Toure for the run-in as well as January signing Wilfried Bony after the two players' involvement in the African Nations Cup ended in victory for their Ivory Coast team on Sunday.
With a crucial Champions League last-16 clash against Barcelona looming, the first leg at the Etihad Stadium on Feb 24, their return cannot come soon enough for Pellegrini.