Manchester City laid down a marker as they saw off Arsenal in the pair's first meeting this season.
There has been much anticipation surrounding the season's first game between the champions and the champions elect. The FA Cup was the stage and Nathan Ake took on the lead role, becoming the unlikely scorer of the winning goal which sent Pep Guardiola's side into the fifth round.
Mikel Arteta took his side back to the stadium he once called home, but his much changed side were unable to secure a statement victory despite running their rivals close. Arsenal's Premier League ambitions were made clear by their starting XI, but they were a match for City throughout.
In a game lacking opportunities and quality it was Ake who showed a touch of finesse to bend in a smart finish after some neat work from Jack Grealish. Arteta threw on his big starts, many of whom started on the bench, but they couldn't combine to find the goal that would've forced a replay.
Here are five talking points from the Etihad.
1 First impressions
We might be close to welcoming February, but Arsenal and City were yet to meet after their game earlier this season was rescheduled. The want to see these two teams square off has only increased due to the Gunners' blistering start to the season.
City have long been the barometer for teams in English football, so there has been a desire to see how Arsenal match up, given they've passed every other test so far this term. The quality of the game did improve as the clock continued to tick over, but this was appeared two teams who didn't want to lose.
Momentum could be crucial in the second-half of the season and with a league match just weeks away both sides were determined not to give their rivals a reason to be buoyed. City may have won the game, but they have not made the psychological dent they will have wanted to.
2 Arteta's squad game
The Spaniard has opted to work with an incredibly selected number of players this term. Seven players have started in every league game whilst the north Londoners are also competing in the Europa League and FA Cup. That has naturally put a strain on their resources - and that was evident with Arteta's team selection.
Arsenal opted not to start some of their major names, including Ben White, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard. Three men who've been among the core of their regular XI which underlined the fact that Arteta is prioritising the league given the opportunity they now have.
The Gunners do not have the luxury of squad depth, which could become more apparent as they juggle domestic and European commitments.
3 A clash of styles
Much of the pre-match talk was of Guardiola taking on the man he spent several years educating. Arteta has put his own stamp on this Arsenal side, but many of their characteristics mirror those we've seen at the Etihad in recent years. Perhaps that's why, in the opening 45, we saw both teams nullify each other.
City are arguably more possession-obsessed with the Gunners more than happy to attack quick, which is why they created more clear cut chances. The half-time team talks were always going to be crucial after the respective managers had a chance to see where they could make gains.
The game did open up, but this was far from both sides at their best, which is perhaps summed up by a defender being the difference maker.
4 City's different way of winning
It always feels a bit weird whenever you see City win in a way that doesn't leave you mightily impressed. That was the manner in which they saw off Arsenal though and, if anything, is a worrying sign. When a team, who are capable of being so breathtaking, can be so far off it, yet still get the job done.
A winner that came from a defender, Kevin De Bruyne certainly nowhere near his best, Erling Haaland struggling to make a major impact. It left City needing to show their uglier side as they huffed and puffed to find the opening goal before then rebuffing Arsenal's late attempts.
5 Can you question Haaland?
The Norwegian is a sensation. He may well leave these shores as one of the greatest forwards we've seen, breaking records left, right and centre. Yet, on the odd week where he doesn't score, it seems like he gets questioned on his general play, which is amplified given he plays in a team that is so full of players who are brilliant at build-up play.
Haaland's threat in behind, predatory instincts and raw pace have given City a different dimension this term. They're certainly capable of playing more direct, but when they have to be patient, its perhaps when Haaland looks more human. The debate will therefore continue, from some quarters at least, as to whether City are in fact a better team minus him.