After Champions League and FA Cup elimination, Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini was under no illusions about the dangers of a trip to Hull City.
His team could not afford another slip-up. On a challenging afternoon, they passed the test.
Pellegrini must have feared the worst when his captain Vincent Kompany was dismissed in the 10th minute for a professional foul.
But, instead of collapsing at the feet of Hull, they hit back with a wonderful strike from David Silva, held their nerve during a tense second half, and then sealed victory with a last-minute Edin Dzeko winner.
City could have no arguments about Kompany's dismissal. The Belgian defender could easily have been penalised for his first tangle with Nikica Jelavic, it was impossible that he would not be punished for the second.
Unhindered, the Croatian striker would have had a clear run on goal and Lee Mason had little option but to reach for the red.
Kompany reacted furiously, taking his frustrations out on the wall of the tunnel, leaving studmarks in the brickwork. He'll miss next week's game against Fulham.
City responded just four minutes later when Silva lashed home the opening goal from 25 metres out.
Cutting across the edge of the penalty area, he looked up and blasted the ball into the top corner. It was his first goal in the league since Dec 14 and an excellent time to end his drought.
Having taken the lead, City withdrew allowing Hull to attack, confident that their lines would hold. And yet it was City who created the better chances.
Pablo Zabaleta unleashed his own thunderbolt on the half-hour only to see it crash off the crossbar onto the goal line and away.
Hampered by their inability to stay onside, the closest Hull came to scoring was Ahmed Elmohamady's long-range effort just before the break, a fizzing effort that went narrowly wide.
Elmohamady could have been dismissed himself for a dangerous challenge on Silva in the first half, but earned only a caution.
Another huge call came in the second half when substitute George Boyd went one-on-one with Hart and preemptively tumbled to the ground.
Hart was furious, screaming at Boyd from close quarters. Mason awarded a goal-kick, but failed to punish the Hull striker for the dive.
Steve Bruce did everything he could to equalise, overloading his team with strikers, but it came at a cost. With gaps emerging in an increasingly reckless defence, Silva found Dzeko and the Bosnian made no mistake. City remain in control of their own destiny.
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