Pep Guardiola has downplayed the praise his side have received over the course of the last week and reminded his team that they have been outperformed by one other team this season.
City have underlined their status as favourites to defend their Premier League title with a series of scintillating displays, culminating in last weekend’s astonishing 6-3 dismantling of local rivals Manchester United.
The signing of Norwegian goal machine Erling Haaland appears to be the final piece in a juggernaut that now looks equipped to maintain its domestic dominance, as well as finally end the wait for a maiden Champions League triumph.
Despite laying waste to pretty much everything they have come into contact with this term, City head into the weekend a point behind early pacesetters Arsenal, who entertain Liverpool on Sunday in what will represent another acid test of their own credentials.
Guardiola has long championed the potential of his former protégé Mikel Arteta who was under severe pressure just over 12 months ago after Arsenal were destroyed 5-0 by City.
Asked how much progress City had made this season, Guardiola took the opportunity to point out that although he was more than satisfied with the performance of his own team, there remains one side looking down on the rest.
He said: ‘In general we played really good football in all these years.
‘The way we are playing is normal. In six, seven years, every year we are a little bit better in some terms.
‘But it is just how many fixtures? Just eight or nine games of the Premier League season. In the Champions League we are in a dream position, we have one game left to qualify. To finish first is important and in the Premier League it is about being there.
‘We cannot forget one thing ladies and gentlemen. There is one team that has been better than us this season, this is the reality.
‘The reality is that Arsenal have been better than us so far. We are not top of the league. It is important to be there and try to fight to arrive there.’
Guardiola, meanwhile, insisted it is too soon to say whether Kyle Walker has a chance of playing at the World Cup.
Walker, the Manchester City and England right-back, underwent groin surgery earlier this week after being forced off injured against United last Sunday.
Walker now faces a race against time to recover fitness ahead of the tournament in Qatar, which begins in six weeks.
Guardiola said: ‘The same as the doctor said – he’s out for a few weeks.’
Asked if it was too early to make a judgement about the World Cup, Guardiola said: ‘Yes.’