Manchester City's stirring victory over local rivals Manchester United in the recent derby raised many questions as to what could have been.
It's been a season that, as harsh as it may sound, has been a wasted one with no progress being made as a club. As encouraging as the United victory was, the soulless defence of their title and second consecutive group stage exit from the Champions League means the season has been an utter failure.
The FA Cup stands as solace in an otherwise dreadful campaign that has been best illustrated by their poor league form this season.
Here are five reasons why City have lost the league title:
Lack of Hunger
There has been an overall feeling of jadedness and stagnation about this City side this season. Last season they were able to play fantastic attacking football with the many stars at the club's disposal, but that was helped by the fact that City were still largely an unknown quantity and teams did not comprehend just how good they were.
As Champions they were always going to have a target on their back with just about every team lifting their game when confronting the defending champions. This means less space, less time and more quality and class needed to break teams down.
One senses City have gone into their title defence thinking they can just play the same way with minimal tinkering and do it all again. That is obviously not the case, as they have been found out on several occasions for being either too gung-ho and naive or lacking the cutting edge to make the breakthrough. It is often said that defending a league title is more difficult than winning it, and this most certainly the case with City as it seems they have not approached the season with the same hunger and desire of last season.
Injuries and poor form
Injuries were largely avoided last season to key players; however, that has not been the case this season as a host of important members of the team have succumbed to injury as well as a loss of form.
Captain Vincent Kompany has missed a massive chunk of the season in what has been a huge blow to Roberto Mancini, as his presence and leadership would have been invaluable in the many hairy moments City have been involved in this season. Kompany was arguably City's most important player in the run to the title last season as he kept the defence watertight and focused. Sadly, City have had severe lapses in concentration in his absence and it has been sorely missed.
Sergio Aguero bagged 30 goals in his debut campaign with virtuoso performances against teams at the top and bottom to be the undisputed spearhead of the attack - who could forget that winner against QPR?
However, this season has been a different story for the diminutive Argentine as a combination of injuries and indifferent form has seen register just 14 goals in all competitions. His application and effort cannot be commended enough but it just hasn't happened for El Kun in what is possibly the second year blues.
Yaya Toure and David Silva, two of the Citizens' major driving forces behind their title success, have had their moments this season but have blown hot and cold too often when it has mattered. Injuries have not helped for the pair and while Toure has continued to put in match-winning performances, notably against Chelsea and Newcastle, he hasn't been helped by team-mates.
One of the reasons why Toure was able to get forward so much last season and transform himself into a truly destructive and dangerous player in and around the penalty area was because the base of the midfield was made so secure and stable by the likes of Gareth Barry, Nigel de Jong and James Milner.
This season he has had to play deeper and take responsibility out of necessity in protecting the back four, which has hindered the effectiveness of his game. Silva has been City's most creative force once more this season, but he has not been as influential nor telling in the final third as last season in what is probably a knock on effect from the whole midfield itself.
Micah Richards, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Joleon Lescott, who were so important last season, have also had injury-curtailed seasons in what has clearly been a struggle from a medical point of view.
Transfers have backfired
In pursuit of trophies, City have engaged in lavish spending in recent seasons thanks to their wealthy Abu Dhabi owners. However, with the Premier League title secured the spending was relatively less in the summer, and understandably so given the success and quality the side that has been assembled in the last few years. That meant only the trio of Javi Garcia, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell were signed to bolster the squad. For various reasons they have failed to live up to their considerable price tags.
Garcia was brought in to replace the outgoing Nigel de Jong in providing the steel and work in midfield. However, he has been in and out of the side as Mancini has clearly seen Barry as the club's number one holding midfielder and this lack of continuity has hampered Garcia's first season.
In the games he has played he hasn't set the world on fire either, hence Barry has continued to keep his position with minimal competition. In response to Adam Johnson's departure to Sunderland, Sinclair was brought in from Swansea but he has been scarcely used in what has been a frustrating debut campaign for the former Chelsea man. The natural width he would provide to the team was seen as an important attribute for the good of the team but his lack of appearances has seen him waste a season.
Rodwell was perhaps a luxury signing given the wealth of quality in City's midfield, but with City lacking young emerging talents in midfield Rodwell is seen as an ideal long-term prospect. Saying that, he has not been given a chance to develop this season with a mere eight league appearances. For a young player with a burgeoning career ahead of him, City have been very poor in managing him during his first season. At 22, he should be mature enough to make an impact for Mancini's side, and if he thought otherwise, a loan would have been the most appropriate course of action rather than seeing the youngster wither on the bench.
Mancini's lack of a Plan B
Mancini experimented in the early part of the season with a three-man defence that was effective at times but was not successful enough to be the stock system for every game. At times this season it has seemed as if he has lacked a Plan B if the star spine of Toure, Silva, Aguero and Hart were not making things happen.
While Edin Dzeko's sensational super-sub rescue missions during the season kept City's defence of their league title alive, the fact that his solo efforts was the only way for City to win and save games for a considerable patch of the season is a concern, especially given the squad strength. His insistence on not playing Sinclair, Rodwell and Garcia and even Samir Nasri even for rotation purposes is a clear sign that Mancini has under-utilised his squad.
Sinclair adds pace and natural width to an increasingly narrow City side and could have played a greater role if given the chance. Rodwell and Garcia provide great size and silk in midfield and could shoulder more of the burden from the likes of Barry, Milner, Silva and Toure. Nasri's lack of minutes is not understandable given he has been fit all season and with City playing catch up, why wouldn't you call on the help of a £25m signing?
All these players could have provided a Plan B for Mancini purely just by playing and the unpredictability they would bring to opposition teams.
It is perhaps the most agonising title loss in Manchester United's proud history. Level on points, but losing out on goal difference would have been a massive kick to the teeth for Sir Alex Ferguson and his charges but their response has been outstanding this season. They have looked like a team on a mission with a ruthlessness and consistency that has put them on course for reaching a new record for points earned.
This insatiable hunger for glory from United is accentuated by the lack of hunger, vitality and energy that has gone into City's title defence. Some say the game is all between the ears, and in that respect City have fallen way short of the mark, where the Red Devils have taught them a lesson in determination and doggedness.
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