LONDON- Manchester City embark on a fifth Champions League campaign buoyant after a perfect start to their domestic season but still searching for the secret formula against Europe's top brass.
Manuel Pellegrini's side have again been handed a tough group and the visit of last year's runners-up Juventus to the Etihad on Tuesday will provide an early Litmus test for their hopes of going past the last 16 for the first time.
Not that the form of the Italian champions should be causing Pellegrini and his players much loss of sleep.
While City have 15 points from five Premier League games, their latest win coming at Crystal Palace on Saturday, Juventus needed a late penalty from Paulo Dybala to draw 1-1 draw with Chievo and avoid a third straight Serie A defeat.
It should be the ideal time to play a Juve side still coming to terms with the summer exits of Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez, but City will be wary of the kind of home slip-ups that have undermined their previous Champions League campaigns.
Their last three home games against Italian clubs, including last September's meeting with AS Roma, ended 1-1 while last season they won just one of their four home fixtures, a fortunate defeat of already qualified Bayern Munich, as they scrambled into the last 16 where Barcelona proved too good.
Despite his side's form Pellegrini wore a frown after the 1-0 win at Palace, with striker Sergio Aguero having limped off. "It's very difficult to answer now. It's important to see how he recovers in the next few hours," Pellegrini, who is also sweating on the fitness of Raheem Sterling and David Silva, said of his Argentine goalscorer.
With Spanish club Sevilla and Bundesliga side Borussia Moenchengladbach also in Group D, qualification could be complicated for City, but Aguero believes the way they have started the season augurs well. "We had an excellent pre-season and we have opened the Premier League with great momentum too," he said. "I think you will see a very good season for Manchester City."
Juventus, who will be without injured midfielder Claudio Marchisio for Tuesday's clash after he sustained a muscle injury against Chievo, have yet to spark at all this season, although coach Massimiliano Allegri is not panicking.
"We need to focus on the positives: this team has plenty of young players and these things take time," he said. "We knew that this season would be a lot tougher. We need to keep working because we've got our first Champions League game on Tuesday."
Mario Mandzukic, a summer signing from Atletico Madrid, could return to the starting lineup after being left on the bench against Chievo when Dybala and Alvaro Morata formed a two-man attack.