Liverpool have booked their first trip to Wembley since 1996 and, after waiting so long, they will be eager to see how the old place has changed. Kenny Dalglish's team deserve their place in the final because over both legs they played with the greater urgency and determination, culminating in Craig Bellamy's decisive goal against his former club and a nostalgic form of jubilation at the final whistle.
For Bellamy it was an evening he will cherish, given the way his time at City ended so acrimoniously. He will have relished making his point to Roberto Mancini, the manager who marginalised and sold him, and the reward is considerable, with a final on 26 February against the Cardiff City team where he decamped last season.
For Liverpool, though, the story goes much further. Sixty different teams have visited Wembley since it was reopened in 2007 and, for a club with Liverpool's past, it has been longer than they would care to remember since they last ventured south for what was once a near-annual excursion. They will be the clear favourites to beat the Championship's third-placed team and win their first trophy of Dalglish's second spell in charge. City will go back to thinking about the Premier League and clearing their minds after a gruelling run of fixtures while missing key players.
This was a night when Vincent Kompany's absence was felt acutely and his replacement, Stefan Savic, was substituted at half-time. Mancini complained afterwards about refereeing decisions but was not willing to expand the argument to say that, over the two games, his team deserved to go through.
The truth was the team 19 points worse off in the league, with 35 fewer goals scored, played with the greater tempo. Liverpool never panicked after Nigel de Jong had opened the scoring, quickly equalised through Steven Gerrard's penalty and held their nerve after Edin Dzeko had made it 2-1 midway through the second half. Bellamy's winner arrived seven minutes later, exchanging passes with Glen Johnson inside the penalty area and placing his shot past Joe Hart.
Mancini's grievances were focused on two moments in the first half. First he argued City should have had a penalty for Charlie Adam's challenge on Dzeko. His annoyance was exacerbated in the 39th minute when Daniel Agger's shot was blocked by Micah Richards's flailing arms and the referee, Phil Dowd, pointed to the spot. The ball had actually struck Richards on his knee first, ricocheting against his hands from close range.
Mancini has become increasingly exasperated with refereeing standards since the turn of the year but the manager will have other concerns, too. Liverpool played with drive and purpose. They seemed determined to get the 3-1 defeat at Bolton Wanderers on Saturday out of their system, playing with far greater tempo, quicker to the ball and much more decisive in possession. City, in contrast, flickered only in short bursts and Mancini's decision to abandon their usual 4-2-3-1 system was a bad one. A semi-final at Anfield is no place to experiment with a three-man defence playing together for the first time. Savic, once again, looked raw and vulnerable and the new system lasted only until half-time before Mancini reverted to his usual formation.
De Jong's goal arrived after 32 minutes and, at that stage, it was tempting to wonder whether this would become the now familiar Anfield story of lots of pressure from the home side but wasteful finishing. José Enrique ought to have scored after four minutes after Aleksandar Kolarov's miscued clearance and, when the shot was blocked by Joe Hart, Stewart Downing's follow-up effort smacked of a player with sapped confidence. David Silva started to become increasingly influential and De Jong's goal was a beauty, curling his shot into the top left-hand corner of Pepe Reina's net from 20 yards.
This was the point of the match when Liverpool demonstrated a togetherness and competitive spirit that was missing at Bolton. There was never once the sense of a team feeling sorry for themselves. Gerrard buried his penalty past Hart and Liverpool were as dominant at the start of the second half as they had been the first. Hart made several outstanding saves, the pick of them being to divert Martin Skrtel's shot over the crossbar, and City had seldom threatened until Kolarov surged along the left wing and whipped in a low, penetrative cross for Dzeko to score at the far post. Both their goals were against the run of play.
The stage was set for Bellamy to have the final say and, afterwards, Dalglish could not resist wondering whether City had any more outcasts they wanted to send 40 miles along the M62.