Mark Hughes can sense a real focus in his Manchester City squad as they bid to maintain their fine start to the season.
With eight new players from this summer alone to integrate into a squad Hughes has built virtually from scratch since replacing Sven-Goran Eriksson last year, many felt City would struggle in the early weeks of the campaign. Instead, the Blues are flying. Thursday's Carling Cup triumph over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park was their third win on the bounce in competitive action, with City not conceding a single goal in that time.
"The settling-in process is accelerated with the kind of top-quality players in our squad," said Hughes.
"These guys have a real understanding of how the game is played and are reacting off each other. They are enjoying playing alongside each other and showing what they can do.
"We have made huge changes in personnel, so they are all coming together at one time. But there is a real focus in the group.
"Everyone is excited, and as a consequence we are playing some good stuff."
Craig Bellamy and Nigel de Jong would appear the most likely members of Hughes' vast squad to benefit should the City chief decide he needs to make changes against Portsmouth on Saturday - although it would not appear to be necessary, given the smooth manner in which their latest triumph was achieved.
Of particular delight was Carlos Tevez's first goal in a blue shirt, having quit Manchester United in the summer to join the City revolution.
"Carlos has endeared himself to this side of Manchester," Hughes smiled.
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