Manchester City's clash with Bournemouth at the Etihad on Saturday spelled somewhat of a warm-up fixture in the Citizens' difficult calendar, where the Sky Blues face Sevilla in the Champions League mid-week and then arch-rivals Manchester derby next weekend.
Not just was the clash against the Cherries a chance for Manuel Pellegrini's men to continue their scintillating form, but also for fringe players to stake their claim for a place in a side currently without crocked duo Sergio Aguero and David Silva.
The latter mainly concerned Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony, who started against the Bournemouth, while Samir Nasri and Kelechi Iheanacho made cameos later on.
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With Aguero and Silva ruled out of action, also for the coveted clash with Manchester United, Bony and Raheem Sterling knew just how to put the smiles back on fans' faces as they linked up devastatingly in a 5-1 demolition of Eddie Howe's hapless side.
Whilst the southernly outfit started the game well and arguably should've had a penalty courtesy of Nicolas Otamendi, City eventually proved their class and took advantage of poor mistakes at the back.
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Bony and Sterling started ramping up the style when they linked up for City's first goal. A diagonal ball to Pablo Zabaleta resulted in a header back across the six-yard box, where Bony instinctively stepped in and assisted Sterling for a tap in.
Bony was again on hand with his poaching ability to make it 2-0 when Adam Federici's spill of Jesus Navas' cross presented the Ivorian with a tap in.
After Glenn Murray pulled one back for the visitors, Bournemouth's tails shot up, though Kevin De Bruyne soon took advantage of the visitors' open defence again to slip through Sterling, the Englishman shimmying his way into the penalty area and stroking the ball past a scrambling Federici.
At 3-1 and cruising, Bony and Sterling's budding partnership was on full display, along with great supply lines from De Bruyne and Navas on either wings.
Sterling would later take advantage of fantastic pressing from Navas to complete his hat-trick. The Spaniard nipped in to steal a loose ball at the back and should have really scored after rounding Federici and with an open goal at his disposal.
Fortunately for Navas, who fluffed his lines, Sterling was on hand to put the game to bed and slot underneath the Bournemouth 'keeper.
If anything was to make City's resounding win sweeter, it was Bony potentially grabbing another goal or two to boost his confidence ahead of a tricky two fixtures without Aguero.
Gratefully, the Etihad faithful jumped in rapturous applause as their marksman scored his second. After a cross from Navas, Bony turned Sylvain Distin wonderfully and coolly finished into the bottom corner for the Citizens' fifth of the afternoon.
A fantastic cap off to an afternoon which will do City's confidence the world of good ahead of a tough week.
In Bony and Sterling, City have found the ideal replacements for the clinical partnership that Aguero and Silva usually share.
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