Aguero using past to buoy future
Sergio Aguero staggers away, dazed but clearly delirious. With every second mattering, he's burst through and made them count.
This time, though, he hasn't whipped his shirt off in delight in order to celebrate a glorious late title-winner on a sunny May afternoon in Manchester. Instead, he's just gingerly stepped out of a car with his racing overalls firmly on - 'Kun 16' on the back, of course - on a crisp autumnal evening at Donington Park track.
The effect on Aguero seems the same, however: sheer exhilaration. That's because he's proven almost as adept with his hands on the wheel of a race car as he is with his feet on a football.
It's one of the intriguing things about the genuine international-class sportsmen. Very often, the fine-tuned physical co-ordination that allows them to do what they do in their own sport translates to others to a remarkable degree. Not even Nico Rosberg, though, expected Aguero's abilities to translate this much to motorsport. The Mercedes driver seems seriously impressed, and even tries to counter it by showing the Argentine a few classy touches with a ball.
They're in Donington together because, earlier this year, Rosberg challenged a range of sportsmen to compete against him in the Puma Race Off. The event involved a training session in a fully authentic Formula One simulator before they all then took to the Monza race track. Aguero didn't just rise to the challenge, though, he relished it. In fact, although Rosberg set the pace with a lap time of 1:21.05, the Argentine ran him pretty close by topping the challenger leaderboard with 1:22.58.
"It's the first time I've got into a car like that," Aguero says. Then, we have a revelation that illustrates a lot about the type of sportsman Aguero is. "I was asking for more, to go even faster!"
His next statement, however, perhaps reveals even more. The obvious follow-up question, after all, is how such sensations compare to the emotional rush of last season's dramatic title denouement. In a moment that will stand alongside Michael Thomas's goal at Anfield in 1989 or Manchester United's Champions League victory 10 years later in the history of the game as a whole, Aguero struck the stunning last-second winner against QPR to claim Manchester City's first title in 42 years.
Curiously, although the Argentine says it's something that will always remain with him, his eyes don't quite widen in the same way. In short, he has an impressively professional attitude to it all: the past no longer matters as much as the present or future.
"Well, the truth is I'm going to think of it all my life. It was a goal that had such an impression on me, and to win the league as well. For me, it will always be there and I am delighted with what happened but now I only want to think of the present and to keep doing things like I've been doing them."
Does it give him goosebumps when he sees it on television now?
"At the start it did, yes. But, now well, I see it, it still makes me emotional but no... it's something I will always have."
The thought processes of such moments are interesting. Famously, some of the greatest - and even some of the most contemplative - sportsmen have struggled to put them into words. Very often, they can't say a thing, only offering a puff of the cheeks. Some, meanwhile, talk about being "in the zone", of an action that almost seems partly subconscious. Aguero, to be fair, makes a decent fist of it.
"When you're there, you're not really thinking about that [what it means]. In that moment, you're only thinking of scoring. You do it with intensity, with all your will.
"Then, when it goes in, it's just the luck... it dawns on you that it's to win the league."
Can he even remember what happened next?
"Yeah, I took off my shirt. I was almost delirious after the goal and everything."
Aguero is also speaking the day after a fine personal performance in the Champions League, in which he scored the equaliser against Ajax that effectively kept City in the competition. Thanks to a 2-2 draw, they're still just about alive.
Just two weeks ago, City had drawn against West Ham United in the league and hadn't yet reproduced the fearsome form of the previous season. Their Champions League displays were the most damning indictment of that. Since then, though, a late winner against Tottenham Hotspur appears to have had a transformative effect. With Roberto Mancini talking about how it was the first time he 'saw the same spirit' as last season, City followed it with a fearsome 5-0 win over Aston Villa this past weekend.
Aguero tries to explain why his team haven't been at their highest level. "First of all, the opponents know us better. They treat us in a different way. Also, we've signed new players and they need to get used to the team.
"We can still play the football we did last year," continues Aguero. "The problems are only temporary, I believe. Like I say, there's not that much in it. We're getting better, that's true. We're not playing as well [as last season] but we are winning and that's good."
Whether it will be good enough to qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League remains to be seen. City are bottom of their group with only two points and need to win both of their last two games while other results go their way; in other words, as Aguero admits, "a miracle".
Like many around the club, he feels their problems in the competition are down to a necessary and inevitable adjustment period.
"In the Champions League, we're not doing as well but we keep on learning," he says. "The errors we've made, we'll make sure we don't make them again.
"It's much more difficult [than the Premier League], the best teams in the world," Aguero adds. "We were also drawn in a particularly difficult group. It's been tough. Obviously, it looks bad, but any of the teams could really be in our situation [because of the difficulty of the group] but we know we have to keep doing things well and not make these errors any more.
Further complicating that, for both City and Aguero personally, is that they next host Real Madrid. Given that the forward has spent the majority of his career at rivals Atletico Madrid, there's a more emotional edge for him than just wanting to eliminate the Spanish champions - especially since they also reportedly wanted to sign Aguero before he joined City, and even piqued his interest.
"Yeah, I was at Atletico for five years. Real will always be a brilliant rival. Everyone in the world knows them. To play against Madrid, one of the best teams in the world, is always great. Now In have the opportunity again, although I haven't got the better of them but I hope I can. It's a very difficult match but we can do it."
Would it have been a great club to play for, though?
"Those are just rumours, people talking. I don't want to speak about that," Aguero says. "I'm happy at City."
Finally, is he happy that they can still get through their Champions League group?
"We can. Obviously, we need a miracle because we're depending on other results but we're going to fight until the end. If it happens, it happens. If not, it's important we keep fighting until the very last minute."
More than most, Aguero knows the exact value of that.