No limit for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City as Prem looks on in envy
Manchester City are not just proving to be an insurmountable problem for the rest of the Premier League this season, they are beginning to provide a headache for the journalistic profession, namely how to continue to find superlatives to describe this team's heavy duty excellence.
The 4-0 win at a canter in Swansea in midweek, a scoreline that could easily have been doubled given the clear-cut chances that went begging, saw Pep Guardiola's side stroll comfortably in second gear for most of the 90 minutes.
A sprightly start from the hosts soon petered out as they became utterly engulfed by City's landslide of passes. So many sides have experienced the same thing this season: how to avoid the ignominy of chasing shadows when the opposition are clearly operating on a totally different plain to the one you occupy.
How do you close down David Silva adequately, while making sure Kevin De Bruyne doesn't get too much space? And if you get tight on the Belgian, who's left to stop Bernardo Silva weaving his magic? How do you double up on the persistent danger of Raheem Sterling and still have enough manpower to watch Leroy Sane on the other side? How do you stop Sergio Aguero scoring when you cannot predict from which of five or six rich sources he may be fed? How do you stop Gabriel Jesus, whose dazzling skills and speed of movement is tying your legs in knots?
Perhaps most importantly of all, how do you launch any kind of an offensive against a side that just won't stop attacking?
The look of desolation on the face of Swansea boss Paul Clement in the second half at the Liberty Stadium told its own eloquent story. You don't. You can't. It's impossible, or at least, it has proved thus so far.
Perhaps Tottenham may have a different idea when they visit Manchester this weekend. But that was said about a tricky visit to Old Trafford, where City went largely untroubled by a crab-like Manchester United. It was said about Arsenal's trip north and they were swept away. It had been said about Liverpool, with all their forward movement and bouncy optimism and they were buried under a five-goal landslide. It was said about the visit to reigning champions Chelsea and City dominated the Londoners on their own pitch.
Every week a new test appears and is passed with flying colours. We are -- it seems -- in the presence of football royalty. Some will argue otherwise, but Premier League fans all over the world are being served up a rare treat by this Manchester City side. Spectators around the country are gaping open-mouthed as their heroes are passed, pressed and pressurised to exhaustion by Guardiola's incessant side. At Swansea, the home supporters simply applauded. There was nothing left to do.
To what heights City can take this masterclass is uncertain. Every time you are tempted to think that a performance is unsurpassable, the following week it is bettered. This Manchester City side keep pushing back the boundaries to what was thought reasonably possible: play expansive, pass and go football on England's mean pitches? Sure. Keep possession for 50 passes at a time without the burly English stoppers and enforcers smashing you to pieces? Yep. Construct a side with so many attacking outlets that you sometimes wonder if they need a defence at all? Certainly. Employ a goalkeeper that plays a little like a creative midfielder and pings the ball long and short as if he has a remote control in his back pocket? Of course. And so on and so forth.
How this City side will be viewed by history will have to wait a while. History will judge when it is ready. As the records fall -- yet another on Wednesday night: the most consecutive league wins in English history -- this young, charismatic side's reputation grows.
Just a season ago, Fernando, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Nolito and Bacary Sagna were occupying first team places. How quickly things change in football. The old guard has been replaced by a generation bristling with talent, self-confidence and energy, which could carry the club to unprecedented highs by the end of the season.
For the rest of us mere mortals chasing new superlatives to describe City's progress, the challenge only intensifies.
Simon is one of ESPN FC's Manchester City bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @bifana_bifana.