Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City's victory over Tottenham in pre-season was the trigger for his team's dominance in the first half of the season.
City responded to a 2-0 loss to Manchester United in the International Champions Cup by beating Real Madrid 4-1 and Tottenham 3-0.
They carried that form into competitive action and have proved unstoppable under the former Barcelona coach, thrashing Spurs 4-1 on Saturday to lead the Premier League table by 11 points.
And Guardiola, speaking after his team's latest victory at the Etihad Stadium, suggested the importance of overcoming Mauricio Pochettino's side in Nashville in July should not be underestimated.
"Tottenham last season, compared to Chelsea, played the best football in the Premier League," he said.
"Today [Saturday] I'm quite happy because I think this season has started going well from our game... against Tottenham in pre-season.
"Our first game in pre-season was against United and we lost and the second [sic] was against Tottenham and there we created maybe eight or nine or 10 chances to score lots of goals – we missed a lot – but there we saw altogether, not me, the players saw, ok that is the way we have to do it.
"Since then I think we maintained that level, with ups and downs of course, for example at Bournemouth we won in the last minute and Southampton we won in the last minute, but in general we maintained that level that we started against Tottenham in pre-season... and now we've maintained that level for three or four months and that's why we are so happy."
Guardiola also excused Sergio Aguero for an angry reaction to being substituted in the 58th minute against Tottenham, the Argentine throwing his gloves to the floor in disgust upon being withdrawn in favour of Gabriel Jesus.
"That's normal," the City coach said.
"The players want to play and I can understand him. He wants to play. He's a top player but in that moment I needed a little bit more energy with Gabriel in that position, so that's why I took that decision.
"Always I don't want to hurt the players, believe me. Always I understand them because I was a football player, they want to play, but I have to take the decisions... when I take a decision I think about many things, it's never personal because I trust a lot in these guys."
|BREAKING NEWS: United boss Mourinho charged for post-match comments by FA|
|Halep withdraws from Kremlin Cup ahead of WTA Finals|
|Renato Sanches eager for further Bayern Munich minutes|
|Nations League standings: Promotion, relegation and race for finals|
|Windies coach Law banned for ´inappropriate comments´ in India Test|
|Carrick denies Manchester United stars are ´not trying´|
|Ferrari struggling under pressure of chasing Mercedes, says Massa|
|Australia desperately need Smith and Warner back - Warne|
|Draxler warns Germany: Mbappe has 300 hp!|
|Draymond Green says Warriors will have to ´bring it´ every night in the West|
|England´s ´wonderful bravery´ leaves Southgate excited for the future|
|Jayasuriya: I always conduct myself with integrity and transparency|
|Northern Ireland stars hurt by lack of club football, says O´Neill|
|Rodgers inspires late Packers comeback|
|Brewers blank Dodgers to take 2-1 NLCS lead|
|Cavaliers, Nance agree to four-year extension|
|Ramos wants Spain to believe in Luis Enrique´s team|
|De Laurentiis: I´ve spoken to Genoa and agent about Piatek|
|Kaka tips bright future for Paqueta after Milan agreement|
|Suns star Booker set to return for season opener|
|Warriors coach Kerr not expecting fast start from NBA champs|
|Fultz to start for 76ers as Brown eyes NBA Finals|
|Maltese champions Valletta want Usain Bolt|
|It would have been normal to kill them! Luis Enrique slams abysmal Spain|
|Seahawks, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen dies aged 65|
|Red Sox ace Sale released from hospital, still set for game five|
|Beer-throwing fan banned by Patriots|
|Southgate lauds ´tremendous´ attackers after famous Spain win|
|Djokovic closing in on summit as he scales new heights|
|Monaco the natural move for Henry - Martinez|
|Ending England drought a ´beautiful feeling´ – Sterling|
|Halep to face Pavlyuchenkova in Moscow comeback|
|NBA 2018-19: Five non-LeBron James storylines to follow|
|Spain 2 England 3: Kane inspires Three Lions as Sterling ends drought in style|
|Bosnia-Herzegovina 2 Northern Ireland 0: Dzeko double leaves O´Neill´s side on the brink|
|Mannarino stops the rot in Moscow|
|Neymar pleased Brazil will not face Messi in Argentina clash|
|Buccaneers fire defensive coordinator Mike Smith after loss to Falcons|
|´Surprised´ Deschamps accepts he could´ve made more effort with Koscielny|
|Kuwait 0 Australia 4: Socceroos deliver win for new coach Arnold|
|Van Dijk fit for Liverpool return - Koeman|
|NBA 2018-19: Eastern Conference predictions|
|NBA 2018-19: Five rookies to watch|
|Denly replaces injured Dawson in England ODI squad|
|Low confirms under-fire Neuer to start against France|
|NBA 2018-19: Western Conference predictions|
|Bolt offered two-year deal by European club, says agent|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron the Laker - what it means|
|Griezmann ahead of Mbappe for Ballon d´Or - Modric|
|Billy Vunipola ruled out with fractured arm|
|Get the chequebook out! - Mayweather talks up potential Khabib clash|
|Amla ruled out of Australia tour|
|Class act Hamilton more complete than ever - Wolff|
|NBA 2018-19: It´s a big season for - Ball, Kawhi, Carmelo, Love & Cousins|
|Bellew: I have no fear of Usyk|
|Birthday boy Ozil is the most creative player in Europe|
|CSA reveals De Villiers and Rabada involved in Mzansi Super League|
|FA condemns England supporters involved in trouble in Seville|
|Gascoigne hits back over Scottish Hall of Fame snub|
|NBA 2018-19: LeBron closing in on Jordan, Curry chasing Miller and Allen|
|Ter Stegen should start ahead of Neuer for Germany – Matthaus|
|England´s Sterling impressed by Sancho´s work ethic|
|Vandoorne seals switch to Formula E|
|Halep to end 2018 as world number one|
|Sri Lanka´s Jayasuriya charged by ICC with breaching anti-corruption code|
|Vermaelen out for six weeks with hamstring injury|
|LeBron and Irving did not fall out, says ex-Cavs trainer|
|Ramsey out of Wales´ clash with Republic of Ireland|
|Bolt angry with drugs test|
|Bad luck is not a coincidence – Kimmich concerned by Germany form|