Leroy Sane's star quality offered a timely weekend boost to Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as Alexis Sanchez prepares to take up residence on the other side of town.
Back in action for the first time since their first top-flight defeat of the season at Liverpool, the Premier League leaders were 2-1 up but enduring a nervy spell in Saturday's home match against Newcastle United.
It fell to Sane to offer a demonstration of his game-breaking qualities. The Germany international took possession and embarked upon a dizzying dribble past a succession of challenges before squaring for Sergio Aguero to complete his hat-trick and seal the points.
The 22-year-old has racked up 10 goals and 13 assists from the left-hand side of City's attack this season – a position from which Sanchez likes to operate. It's a return that suggests the Chile star's decision to join Manchester United despite Guardiola's lengthy courtship might well grant him a less troublesome route to the first XI.
"He suffered in the first six months of last season but in the last six months and this season he is playing at a high, high level," Guardiola told reporters when discussing Sane's development since joining City from Schalke for a reported £37million in September 2017.
"I don't want to tell him very nice, nice words because I have a feeling he has a lot of things to improve.
"But, of course, the most important thing against the teams who defend so well [like Newcastle] are the guys who can take a risk, to be aggressive against them. The guys who have the ability to dribble and a chance to shoot. And he did it.
"At 2-1, the game is always open. He decided, "I go, I go" and made an amazing action. Sergio's control and finishing was good.
"[Raheem] Sterling did the same, three or four times attacking central defenders. It is so complicated to attack 11 players when they defend so deep.
"But my feeling is we are learning how to attack in that way. The counter-attack is a natural way but we are able to do two faces. It is so important."
Sane might be removed from the starting line-up for the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-final against Bristol City on Tuesday, with Aguero's goalscoring expertise having secured a slender 2-1 first-leg advantage over the Championship side.
However, Guardiola will settle down with a glass of his favourite tipple before making any rash decisions.
"Normally I don’t think about what we are going to do next until after my glass of red wine," he added, with regards to his selection for the game at Ashton Gate, with opposite number Lee Johnson having spent £450 on a bottle to woo United boss Jose Mourinho in the previous round.
"After red wine, a little bit of alcohol in my body, my focus is much better.
"Of course we are going to try to say 'the best team possible'. But to say Bernardo Silva, [Ilkay] Gundogan and [Eliaquim] Mangala are not able to play, that will not be fair.
"What I want to say is will we go there to try to win the game and go to the final. That is true."
|Anthony ´can only make´ a team better, says Iverson|
|Henry more worried about Monaco´s future than his own|
|Osaka powers past Svitolina in Melbourne|
|Harden on Anthony trade: It kind of sucks that it didn´t work out|
|Redskins remain ´optimistic´ QB Alex Smith will play again|
|Patriots coach Belichick says Rams´ Donald is ´pretty much unblockable´|
|PSG fined €100,000 by LFP over player-recruitment practices|
|I´m not his father - Guardiola demands Mendy matures|
|Sykes record in vain as Banvit claim victory|
|Usain Bolt calls time on football career|
|Otamendi not happy at Man City, says Guardiola|
|Workaholic Woods learning to rest as he prepares for 2019 debut|
|Henry´s Monaco dumped out of Coupe de France|
|Qatar can win Asian Cup, says Sanchez|
|Tim Howard to retire following 2019 MLS season|
|Koscielny backs Bellerin to return from injury ´stronger than before´|
|Chiefs fire DC Bob Sutton after AFC Championship loss to Patriots|
|Reyes returns to Spain with second-tier strugglers Extremadura|
|Emiliano Sala: Profile of Cardiff City striker missing after joining from Nantes|
|Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut|
|Nuno fined over pitch celebration in Leicester win|
|Nadal unfazed by another Next Gen opponent in Tsitsipas|
|Ulster hand lifetime ban to spectator after Zebo abuse|
|Phehlukwayo´s career-best day inspires Proteas against Pakistan|
|Bournemouth pounce for Brentford´s Mepham|
|You say all signings are controversial – Valverde defends Boateng arrival|
|Search for missing Sala plane suspended|
|Kohli and Williamson display mutual respect as India and Black Caps prepare for battle|
|Qatar 1 Iraq 0: Al Rawi free-kick books quarter-final spot|
|Ba joins Adebayor and Robinho at Istanbul Basaksehir|
|BREAKING NEWS: Tottenham´s Alli out until March with hamstring injury|
|Fit-again Joseph added to England squad|
|It is very, very serious for us - Tuchel wants midfielder in January window|
|Lakers expect Rajon Rondo back Thursday as LeBron James continues rehab|
|Atletico Madrid boosted as Koke thigh injury revealed to be minor|
|South Korea 2 Bahrain 1 (after extra time): Kim Jin-su seals quarter-final spot|
|AC Milan confirm Zapata thigh injury|
|I miss him a lot - Guardiola confirms ´clever´ Mendy back in Man City squad|
|Tiafoe wants LeBron meeting after run to Australian Open quarters|
|Cardiff continue to ´pray´ for Sala|
|West Ham fined over Burnley clash chaos|
|Knicks star Enes Kanter frustrated by reduced role|
|Kvitova getting back to her best, says Barty|
|Kvitova revels in first semi of ´second career´|
|Messi´s the best player in every world – Boateng dismisses past Real Madrid comments|
|Thunder frustrations continue against Renegades|
|Alonso vows to clear name in tax fraud case|
|Classy Nadal downs Tiafoe to set up Tsitsipas semi|
|Hoedt leaves Southampton for Celta Vigo on loan|
|Melbourne City 4 Western Sydney Wanderers 3: Hosts edge thriller with two goals in last six minutes|
|Wilder won´t even pick up the phone - Hearn not hopeful of AJ bout|
|Sala was on board missing plane, say French authorities|
|Arsenal´s Bellerin out for season with ACL rupture|
|Gatland waiting on ´concrete´ offers|
|Ronaldo accepts prison sentence and €18.8m fine for tax fraud|
|Tsitsipas: It was vital to back up Federer win|
|Awesome Kvitova ends Barty´s home run in Melbourne|
|CA rejects Thunder appeal for full points in abandoned Heat clash|
|Emiliano Sala: Concerns grow for Cardiff striker after plane goes missing|
|Harden unimpressed with refs in Rockets´ 76ers disappointment|
|Ronaldo arrives for sentencing in tax fraud case|
|Record-breaking evening ´one of those nights´ for Warriors star Thompson|
|Hazard still interested in Real Madrid but won´t rule out Chelsea stay|
|Collins moves past Pavlyuchenkova, into Australian Open semis|
|Kohli makes history with ICC awards sweep|
|Thompson sets NBA record with 10 straight made three-pointers to open game|
|76ers hand Rockets largest loss of season, Harden scores 37 points|
|Tsitsipas overcomes Bautista Agut to continue Aus Open run|
|Barcelona move a ´dream come true´ for Boateng|
|Rams coach McVay on Gurley: I´ve got to get him more opportunities|