Manchester United players have been putting in the hard yards at Carrington ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby.
Asked why his team had been fearful, Guardiola replied: "We wanted to play good in front of our fans and we know how important it is to play in this game". But United have been assembled at great expense by a succession of managers since Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement in 2013, yet they are inhibited, cautious and hard to watch.
Yet, just as City threatened to run riot as they have done so often already this season, their momentum was halted when with his first involvement since coming on as a substitute Romelu Lukaku was upended by Ederson for a United penalty.
Fernandinho, who also made the move from Shakhtar, is the man who makes City tick.
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Long balls to the forwards are a great method of mixing up the play, taking the pressure off and giving the defenders and midfielders a break.
Ilkay Gundogan finished it off, but the move had taken 42 passes to construct, using every area of the pitch.
Those are not the statistics of a team likely to challenge for the title, but despite the evidence weighing so heavily against his side, Mourinho attempted to put a positive spin on United's fourth league defeat of the season.
"It is not for me, after a defeat, to speak about a player who was not here [Pogba]", Mourinho said after the game.
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Anthony Martial's second-half penalty was their only threatening moment in front of goal, yet Mourinho cited his side's hard recent run of fixtures that has included away games at Chelsea and Juventus as an excuse for their display at the Etihad Stadium. It is nearly impossible for us to win three matches in a row [Juventus, City and Chelsea].
Jose Mourinho's worst nightmare is a porous team, a wonky defence, a hefty goals-conceded column.
A midfield trio of Nemanja Matic, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera was never going to come up with much flair in midfield, with Mourinho trying to contain David and Bernardo Silva.
FW Anthony Martial, 6 - United's most risky forward again, he scored the penalty to become only the seventh player to score in five consecutive league games for the club, following Eric Cantona, Dwight Yorke, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robin van Persie.
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He played in the defeat to Spain, but missed the narrow win over Ireland earlier this month, due to the birth of his two children. You need the full package in games like this - to cause them problems when you have the ball and when they have the ball.
City were more composed and played like a team that knew exactly what to do in defence and attack, marching on without so much as a sideways glance at their rivals.