When Mark Hughes looked at the Manchester Ctiy teamsheet before their meeting at the Britannia Stadium, he could have been forgiven for fancying his team's chances.
Of course, City still managed to field well over £100million worth of talent, but the line-up reflected what is clearly Pellegrini's ambition with his new club - to be successful in the Champions League.
Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, who have been the Citizens most prolific scorers so far this season, were dropped to the bench, as were Fernandinho and Jesus Navas.
This showed clear intention from Pellegrini not to lose and to rest players for their upcoming clash with Czech outfit Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night, as success in Europe appears to be top of the agenda for the club this campaign.
European glory is something that Roberto Mancini tried - and failed - to bring to the Etihad Stadium, and it seems Pellegrini's main priority is to fare better than his predecessor in the Champions League.
This isn't necessarily purely down to the rich hierarchy at the club, as the 60-year old revealed recently, Malaga's last-gasp defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the quarter-finals of last season's competition is something that still resonates with him.
He said: "It was a very hard result for me to take. It was the same week that my father died and I only arrived back from Chile on the day of the game with Dortmund.
"Maybe all of us at Malaga thought the tie was finished before it was.
"It was very difficult - I don't think we could believe it. All I remember was that it was one of the saddest weeks for me."
With City being dealt a much more favourable draw compared to recent years this season, few won't be backing them to make the knockout stages for the first time in their history.
But Pellegrini must grasp rotation in order to maintain expectations that City compete for success on home soil as well as on the continent.
Clearly the blue half of Manchester would love to see them wrestle the title back from fierce rivals Manchester United, even if it meant more disappointment on the European stage.
In fact, the Chilean should be looking to none other than retired manager Sir Alex Ferguson for rotation tips, as the former Red Devils boss was a master at keeping players fresh for both the Premier League and Champions League.
He always knew when to deploy his prized assets and when to give them a rest. I doubt Fergie would have seen a trip to Stoke as a chance to give some members of his squad a rest.
If Pellegrini is to win trophies on both fronts this campaign, he needs to find a balance similar to the one the great Sir Alex found, otherwise lacklustre league draws might become a regularity this season.
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