Following the draw for the Champions League group stage made in Monaco on Thursday, Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini must have felt a sense of relief.
City were handed a difficult group in both of the two previous seasons, and failed to reach the knockout stage on both occasions.
Despite being drawn with current holders Bayern Munich this time around, fellow group members CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen appear to represent far weaker opposition.
City have been drawn in a group with Bayern Munich previously. In the 2010-11 campaign the Blues amassed a respectable ten points, beating Villareal home and away. However, defeats away from home to Napoli and Bayern cost them dear and they missed out on second spot by a single point.
In 2012-13 Manchester City were expected to improve on their performance under Roberto Mancini. Unfortunately City were drawn to play three teams who were current domestic champions at the time in the form of eventual finalists Borussia Dortmund, Dutch giants Ajax and the mighty Real Madrid.
Even in spite of the tough opposition City performed poorly, failing to record a single victory as they finished in last place in Group A.
Ultimately, failure in Europe led to Pellegrini replacing Roberto Mancini as manager.
Director of football Txiki Begiristain has conceded that it is imperative for City to improve on their previous performances this time around saying to reporters: "We have to do better in the Champions League. There's no minimum target. We are big club, with big players and with a manager with big experience."
Reaching the round of 16 should be relatively easy to achieve for Manchester City. Despite their surprise defeat to Cardiff at the weekend, City appear to have improved an already strong squad with new arrivals such as Jesus Navas.
In Manuel Pellegrini they have a manager who came within one minute of knocking Borussia Dortmund out and reaching the semi finals with a limited Malaga side last season. Although trips to Moscow and Munich will be tricky, taking a talented City side to a similar stage should be well within his reach.
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