Inspired by De Bruyne's brilliance, Man City claim a deserved win at Chelsea
Just one goal but a gulf of class separated the two sides at Stamford Bridge. The champions tried to stem the City flow, but the movement and interchanging of positions from the away side was too much.
City kicked off without their captain, their flying left-back and their talismanic centre-forward but, despite the absence of Vincent Kompany, Benjamin Mendy and Sergio Aguero, took the game to Chelsea and thoroughly deserved victory. The confidence, spirit and ability of the side Pep Guardiola has constructed is quite intoxicating.
It is difficult to find anything remotely wrong with such a performance but, once again, the weight of possession and chances created suggests a one-goal win could have been bettered with cooler finishing.
Manager rating out of 10
9 -- Finally winning a game against Chelsea after eight attempts, Guardiola was as bold and confident in his team selection as the players were in carrying out instructions. He never doubted their ability to keep up his optimistic tactics.
Player ratings (1-10, 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ederson Morais, 8 -- The confidence emanating from goalkeeper to defence -- and beyond -- was eye-catching. One shot from Cesar Azpilicueta came at him unsighted, yet he was rapidly down to his left to palm it away. He also produced a brilliant high catch and quick throw to release a scintillating counter attack led by Raheem Sterling.
DF Kyle Walker, 8 -- An energetic display from the right-back, whose first touch took him marauding through central midfield and was an early sign for the home side of how City players would interchange roles. He played two magnificent through balls as City pressed late to add a second and had energy to spare at the end.
DF John Stones, 8 -- Imperious at the back. He had one dodgy moment when Alvaro Morata beat him down the right but, otherwise, was solid facing one, two or three attackers.
DF Nicolas Otamendi, 7 -- Booked late on for an unnecessarily hectic lunge on Willian when City could have been playing down the clock.
DF Fabian Delph, 8 -- Another calm and assured display, this time on the big stage under a proper spotlight. Having been beaten down the line early, thereafter he was confident and in charge. Cannot be expected to fly to the byline like Mendy, but does his work tidily and crisply.
MF Fernandinho, 8 -- Saw plenty of early possession as City settled in and had a great opportunity to score from a Kevin De Bruyne corner but his bullet header was saved. Booked for a tactical trip on Willian, but was a lynchpin amid City's near-total midfield control.
MF David Silva, 8 -- Always available, turning out of trouble and finding crucial spaces. Pushed well forward, he had two chances to open the scoring, but just failed with both. In the whirling vortex of such a fast-paced game, every pass had the right weight applied.
MF Kevin De Bruyne, 9 -- Perhaps with a point to prove to the club that sold him, De Bruyne was the difference between a great City performance ending unrewarded and the eventual win. He started wide on the right, but popped up all over the pitch, guiding, prompting, prodding and, when it came to the crunch, scoring a superb winner. A complete performance.
MF Leroy Sane 8 -- Quick to block early Chelsea attempts to advance down his flank, he also posed plenty of problems going forward. Displayed brilliant use of tiny spaces close to the touchline in swapping passes with Silva.
MF Raheem Sterling 8 -- Happy to run at the heart of the Chelsea defence, he drew a string of first-half free kicks in dangerous positions. His form meant that his shadow, Marcus Alonso, was afforded little chance to leave his tracking duties to create damage of his own.
FW Gabriel Jesus, 8 -- Selfless and capable, the Brazilian put in a shift. This was encapsulated in his constant closing down of Chelsea's defenders and goalkeeper, which led to various losses of possession from the home side.
MF Bernardo Silva, NR -- Arrived as a 75th-minute replacement for his namesake David and took only a few minutes to get into his stride. That the City passing through the middle did not skip a beat showed how well he adapted to a more central role.
MF Ilkay Gundogan, NR -- Arrived on 83 minutes for Sane and immediately threaded a wonderful ball through the middle of the Chelsea defence. Sprightly and alert.
MF Danilo, NR -- A 93rd-minute time waster to replace the exhausted De Bruyne.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.