Preamble: Good evening everybody and welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of tonight's ding-dong between Manchester City and Swansea City. Stuffed to the gunnels with ridiculously expensive talent, Roberto Mancini's side needs no introduction. Their opponents are less well-known: the Championship play-off winners from Wales, set off on their maiden voyage in the competition tonight, although let's not forget they did feature in the top flight back in the days before football was officially invented.
By their own recent standards, Manchester City have been relatively parsimonious this summer, spending just £50m, almost 80% of which was accounted for by the purchase of Sergio Aguero from Atletico Madrid. He's likely to start on the bench tonight, alongside his unsettled compatriot Carlos Tevez.
Comparative church-mice Swansea City have been busier, if not as spend-happy in the transfer market and will hand striker Danny Graham his Premier League debut. Brought in from Watford during the summer, he's the Swans record signing, despite costing 10 times less than the man they call Kun. Goalkeeper Michel Vorm, centre-half Steven Caulker, midfielder Wayne Routledge and striker Leroy Lita are other summer signings who may feature this evening.
In our recent series of Premier League previews, Danny Taylor's look at Manchester City and Scott Murray's salute to the new boys of Swansea City, seemed paerticularly popular amongst our readers, while this interview Paul Wilson conducted with Swansea City manager Brendan Rodgers for yesterday's Observer is also well worth a five minutes of your time.
Or 10, if you're a slow reader.
While we're waiting for some team news, here's an amusing quote that featured in yesterday's Said & Done column: "I really believe if you are a player who only thinks about money then you'll end up at Manchester City" - Gael Clichy, July 2009.
Team news: Even by his own standards of conservatism, this is some statement of intent by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini. Despite playing the opening league match of the season at home against most people's favourites for the drop, he's picked a line-up that couldn't be much more defensive if he sent out eleven bricklayers to block up Joe Hart's goal.
Man City (8-1-1): Hart, Richards, Kompany, Lescott, Clichy, Toure Yaya,
De Jong, Barry, Silva, Dzeko, Johnson.
Subs: Taylor, Zabaleta, Milner, Kolarov, Savic, Aguero, Balotelli.
Swansea (4-4-1-1): Vorm, Rangel, Caulker, Williams, Tate, Britton,
Dobbie, Agustien, Dyer, Graham, Sinclair.
Subs: Moreira, Orlandi, Routledge, Lita, Moore, Allen, Gower.
Referee: Mike Dean (Wirral)
Auto-refresh news: Apologies, but there isn't one, because we're not allowed have one at the moment. It's because of this nonsense.
The teams are in the tunnel, so not long now: If Sky's fancy graphic is anything to go by, Swansea City will line up in a 4-4-2 with Scott Sinclair and Scott Dobbie on the left and right of a midfield anchored by Leon Britton and Kemy Augustien. Danny Graham will lead the line, with Nathan Dyer off his shoulder. Can they get a result? The romantic in me is tipping them to prevail 2-1.
An email from Danny Last, who runs this excellent website: "If the game gets dull tonight, then you can mention the fact Man City gave away free shoe-laces with their season tickets this year," he says. If Mancini continues sending out his preposterously expensive and talented charges to play with the hand-brake on, City season ticket holders will be able to string themselves up from the rafters of the Eastlands stands once the tedium gets too much.
Good news! It turns out we are allowed to use the auto-refresh tool. It's there in the standfirst, so get clicking.
1 min: Swansea kick off and City immediately go on the front foot. David Silva jinks his way down the left and pulls the ball across the edge of the penalty area, where Yaya Toure pulls the trigger. His surface-to-air screamer is blocked by a desperate lunge from one of Swansea's defenders, who hurls his body between ball and goal.
3 min: Scott Sinclair, who I'm tipping for big things this season, gets his first touch, tries to slalom down the left wing , but runs down a blind alley and is forced to beart a retreat and pick out Stephen Dobbie, behind him in support.
4 min: Most Swansea City players have had a touch by now, which should help ease any early jitters among the new boys. They're a nice footballing side, whose manager prefers them to play the ball out from the back and keep it on the deck rather than Stokeing it long.
8 min: A long spell of possession for Swansea ends with them winning a corner, which is played short along the ground. Nothing comes of it and Joe Hart throws the ball out.
9 min: A poor pass from Gael Clichy puts David Silva under pressure, allowing Stephen Dobbie to pounce. He gallops down the right flank and sends a cross towards Danny Graham, who'd peeled off his marker and was waiting in space. Vincent Kompany times his leap to perfection, nodding the cross out of harm's way.
11 min: Danny Graham wins a free header in midfield and the ball skims off his head, well into Manchester territory and towards the left touchline. Scott Sinclair does well to keep it in play and wins a throw-in, but the Swans fail to capitalise.
13 min: "In fairness (and surely fairness is the modus operandi of the MBM just as it is for Joey Barton), Mancini did pick Silva as well as Johnson so shouldn't that Citizenry formation read 8-2-1?" asks Lou Roper. "But would it really have hurt to play Balotelli from the start?"
13 min: With just under a quarter of an hour gone, it's Swansea who are looking like the home side here; they're calm in possession and happy to take the game to Manchester City. Yaya Toure's early chance aside, City have been fairly poor
16 min: Gael Clichy swings in a cross from the left flank, but it's a mit too high for Edin Dzeko, who was in space in the centre.
17 min: Micah Richards gets caught in possession deep inside the Swansea City half by Scott Sinclair, who sets off on a lightning fast counter-attack. Richards showes an astonishing turn of pace to chase him down and regain possession. That's great work by the City defender.
17min: "Does anyone feel like any player on the MCFC team actually enjoys playing any more?" asks John Willoughby. "Mancini strikes me as the sort of manager who eliminates all enjoyment from the game."
19 min: No real chances of note, yet, but it's a fairly absorbing match so far. Both defences are looking fairly shaky under pressure, despite not having been tested by anything particular difficult yet. Swansea's gets caught out by a through-ball from Edin Dzeko, which David Silva tries and fails to chase down. The pass wasn't weighted well enough and ran through to Michel Vorm in the Swansea goal before Silva could get to it.
22 min: Silva and De Jong exchange short passes in midfield, before the former short-changes the latter, forcing him to poke the ball back to Joe Harte in the Manchester City goal. Thrilling stuff.
24 min: Smashing save from Michel Form, who does excellently to fling himself to his right and keep out a curling effort from Silva. Moments later there's a shout for a penalty when an Edin Dzeko effort takes a deflection off Swansea centre-half Ashley Williams.
26 min: A shout for a penalty that was turned down, I hasten to add. The ball hit the defender's hand as he dived in to try and block a cross. After their promising beginning to this match, it's starting to look ominous for Swansea City.
29 min: City are really turning the screw now. After another flowing passing move in which they cut through the Swansea defence like a hot knife through butter, David Silva got on the end of a low cross from Adam Johnson and rattled the crossbar with a rasping drive.
33 min: Applause ripples around Eastlands, or whatever City's stadium is called these days, as Sergio Aguero goes for an ego-boosting jog up the touchline. He returns the applause to the City fans, clapping his hands above his head in that half-hearted way footballers do.
34 min: "The odd thing about it is that Mancini seemed to play with a lot of joy," writes Jim Bach. "Your podcast comment about the wildest kids being the strictest parents was probably correct in his case," he continues, doing a bit of ego-stoking of his own.
35 min: Gael Clichy, whoi has looked a constant threat down the left flank, drills in a low cross to YaYa Toure, who makes a pig's ear of his efforts to steer the ball goalwards, getting it tangled under his feet then allowing his marker to hack clear. He hasn't been particularly impressive tonight, has Yaya. He looks a bit ring-rusty and keeps giving the ball away.
36 min: Manchester City attack down the right flank, with Adam Johnson charging into the space behind full-back Alan Tate before sending in a cross. In the Swansea goal, Michel Vorm claims.
38 min: I spoke to soon, Yaya Toure charges past two defenders to the edge of the Swansea penalty area, before unleashing a rasping drive that's put out for a Man City corner. From the ensuing inswinger, Toure tees up David Silva, who fires over the bar with the goal at his mercy. He could have had a hat-trick by now.
39 min: "Re: your comments on 29 mins," writes Hugh Collins. "It's usually best to turn a screw with a screwdriver, rather than with a hot buttery knife. You're mixing your metaphors like a jack of all trades spoiling the broth."
40 min: As strong as an ox, Yaya Toure stumbles and barges his way through two tackles before laying the ball off to Silva on the edge of the area again. The Spaniard is dispossessed before he can turn.
44 min: Despite the pressure they're under, Swansea City continue trying to play the ball out from the back, with goalkeeper Michel Vorm demonstrating feet as nifty as his hands. The palms on said hands get stung again, when he's forced to put them in the way of a rising drive from Edin Dzeko.
44+ 1min: That's another fine save from Vorm, who's quick off his line to stop Dzeko opening the scoring in first half added time. The Bosnian was clean through on goal, having cut inside from the left, only for the Dutch goalkeeper to spread himself and stop his goalbound shot with an outstretched boot. Moments later, City win a corner after a low drive takes a deflection that could have flashed either side of the right upright. In the melee that follows, Dzeko hits the crossbar.
Half-time Having bossed the game for the opening 20 minutes, Swansea City will be counting their blessings that it's still all square. Only for their goalkeeper and the woodwork behind him, they could be five or six down at this stage. As things stand, though, they've played their first ever half of Premier League football without conceding a goal, although they've probably used up a season's worth of luck to do so. If they're to get anything from this game, they're going to need to come up with some way of containing David Silva, who has been buzzing around between the lines like a blue-arsed fly for the past half-hour, wreaking havoc among the ranks of Swansea defenders.
Half-time blather: " Re: wild kids and strict parents," writes Ryan Dunne. "Surely Kevin Keegan and Pep Guardiola (to pick two names at random) created teams in their own image, and you can even argue that the peerless Lord Ferg's swashbuckling Man Utd sides are not unrelated to his goalscoring feats with the Glorious Glasgow Rangers (25 goals in 41 games is hardly bad). That said, cheeky chappy Super Ally McCoist does, in support of your theory, seem to be pioneering a less efficient brand of 4-5-1 Walternaccio."
45 min: The teams return for the second half, with no changes on either side. In the Manchester City dug-out, Kun Aguero is fiddling with a roll of Gaffer Tape, which would suggest he's either (a) very easily amused, or (b) about to tape up his socks or wedding ring in preparation for making his Premier League debut.
46 min: Scott Sinclair wins a free-kick for Swansea in midfield, after getting clattered by Nigel De Jong. Swansea play the ball forward, before conceding possession to their hosts on the edge of the Manchester City penalty area.
47 min: Manchester City win the first corner of the second half after more good work from David Silva on the right-hand side of the Swansea City penalty area. He's proving a major handful. Nothing comes from the corner, apart from another blistering counter-attack in which Scott Sinclair leads the charge. He gallops from the Swansea left-back position, past the halfway line and on towards the corner flag, getting in a cross when it looked like the ball was gone out of play. Joe Hart claims.
50 min: On the right side of midfield, Ashley Williams gives the ball away to Adam Johnson, who slips a pass inside to Yaya Toure. Keeping the ball on the deck, he threads it between two defenders, into the path of Edin Dzeko, who only has goalkeeper Michel Worm to beat. Offside, but not by much. Another let-off for Swansea.
52 min: As Manchester City fans appeal for a penalty after a foul by Nathan Dyer on Silva at the edge of the penalty area, Scott Dobbie and three team-mates set off on a counter-attack. It's four on three as the Swans bear down on the Manchester City penalty area, but with passing options to his left and right, Dobbie elects to shoot from distance and Joe Hart is equal to the challenge.
55 min: Replays show that referee Mike Dean was correct to ignore the recent penalty appeals - Dyer's tackle on Silva may have been inside the area, but it was no foul.
GOAL! Manchester City 1-0 Swansea City (Dzeko 58) David Silva beats Leon Britton to a 50-50 ball in midfield and scurries forward, before playing a diagonal pass to Adam Johnson on the inside right flank. He sends in a cross, which Michel Vorm can only parry into the path of Dzeko, who slots home from about eight yards.
59 min: KUUUUNNNNNNN!!!!!!!! Manchester City substiution: Nigel De Jong off, Sergio Aguero on. The Argentinian enters the arena to rapturous applause.
60 min: With Dzeko continuing the play up front, Yaya Toure drops back a bit to let Aguero slot in to position. Within two minutes, he has stamped his mark on the game, swivelling on his right foot to bring a good save out of Vorm with a left-footed drive, then wriggling his way past a couple of defenders and sending a looping cross to the far post from the byline. Sadly for him, there was nobody present to get on the end of it.
64 min: In the wake of the aforementioned left-footed drive, Yaya Toure slotted the ball past Vorm in the Swansea goal, but was correctly flagged for being offside.
65 min: Swansea substitutions: Leon Britton and Stephen Dobbie off, Joe Allen and Wayne Routledge on.
65 min: Swansea City win a free-kick in the Manchester City right-back position, which Scott Sinclair curls in towards the far post. Ashley Williams does well to keep the ball in play, but fails to get much power on his header, making it easy for Hart to claim the ball.
GOAL! Manchester City 2-0 Swansea City (Aguero 67) After yet another slick passing move, which Swansea's players can only stand and admire, Micah Richards picks out Sergio Aguero at the far post with a low cross from the right and the Arbgentinian prods the ball inside the post with his right foot to open his account in England after less than nine minutes on the field.
GOAL! Manchester City 3-0 Swansea City (Silva 70) What a goal! Aguero chases down Steven Caulker as the Swansea defender tries to control a kamikaze pass from a team-mate inside his own penalty area. The ball breaks forward and as Vorm rushes out of his goal, Aguero lobs the ball over him, chases it to the byline and keeps it in play by hooking it backwards over his shoulder. In front of goal, the ever alert David Silva is on hand to sweep it into the goal.
72 min: You fear for an increasingly weary and demoralised Swansea City side, now that City have put some numbers on the board and have Aguero and Silva gadding about up front. That was a truly marvellous bit of opportunistic play by Aguero, from the initial decision to harry Caulker to his relentless pursuit of what looked like a hopeless cause as the ball looked to be sailing out of play. He hooked the ball back over his shoulder more in hope than expectation, but it was no surprise that Silva was wise to his wheeze and in the right place to capitalise on his team-mate's industry. Awesome.
76 min: Another magnificent save from Swansea goalkeeper Vorm, who shows great reflexes to get down quickly and save one-handed when a Yaya Toure free-kick fizzed under the wall and threatened to sneak in the bottom right-hand corner. Although it could be argued he was at fault for Manchester City's first goal, Vorm has been splendid tonight in his first game of any kind for Swansea.
80 min: Swansea substitution: Nathan Dyer off, Leroy Lita on. Manchester City substitution: man of the match (so far) David Silva off, James Milner on. Manchester City substitution I forgot to tell you about earlier: Adam Johnson off, Stefan Savic on.
84 min: I wonder what Mario Balotelli makes of tonight's events? He was poker-faced when the camera cut to him warming up on the sideline after Aguero had set up Silva's goal, but he must be wondering where he's going to get a game when Carlos Tevez (if he's still at the club), Dzeko, Aguero, Silva, three holding midfielders, four defenders and a goalkeeper are likely to be ahead of him in the pecking order.
87 min: Manchester City win a free-kick a few yards outside the D on the edge of the Swansea penalty area for an Ashley Williams foul on Edin Dzeko. James Milner fancies his chances and hits the target, but his effort doesn't trouble Michel Vorm.
GOAL! Manchester City 4-0 Swansea City (Aguero 90) What a player! What a treat we're in for this season! The ball drops to Aguero about 35 yards out, a bit right of centre. He looks up, advances a couple of yards and then rifles a powerful, dipping drive into the bottom left-hand corner. That's a wonderful strike from a super player. A Manchester City star is born.
Peep! Peep! Peep! It's all over - after a slow start, Manchester City win at a canter, due in no small part to the show-stealing contribution of debutant Sergio Aguero, who scored two and created a third after coming off the bench for the last half hour. For a man who isn't fully fit, his contribution was astonishing.
Swansea City were ultimately hammered but far from disgraced and can take heart from the fact that they won't be facing opposition this strong every week. They played quite well in spots and had plenty of possession without doing much with it. We'll get a better idea of how well equipped they are to stay in the Premier League once they play a couple of teams that don't boast superstars of the calibre of Kun Aguero and David Silva.