Don't be fooled by the scoreline: Manchester City were nothing like as convincing. It took a goal from a set piece from Yaya Touré right at the end to make this second home victory of the season look respectable. Before that, City only just had their noses in front and could have been embarrassed for the second time in a week had Hull shown a little more composure in front of goal. It was hardly the statement of intent Manuel Pellegrini was looking for after the defeat in Cardiff last week and, while Hull showed more than enough organisation and enterprise to suggest predictions of a swift return to the Championship may be premature, on this basis there is no evidence either that Manchester City will justify the faith of all those who tipped them for the title.

The way they demolished Newcastle suggested otherwise, but now even Pellegrini accepts that may have been a false result. "I knew the Premier League would be harder than that, and so it is proving," the Manchester City manager said. "It was good to start off with a win and a clean sheet, and today we did the same, but I knew at the time that the way we beat Newcastle was not the reality of the English league."

Steve Bruce did not need telling where Hull need to improve. He is trying to bring in another striker and is interested in working with Nicklas Bendtner again, though aware that Hull is a hard sell to players on Arsenal's books. "Even in the Championship people were saying we were not scoring enough goals, and it's beginning to look like our achilles heel," the Hull manager said. "We've got really good players here, and I was immensely pleased with the way we took Manchester City on, but we need to take our chances."

At least Manchester City defended Hull's corners competently enough, after the catalogue of errors in Wales, though the centre-back pairing of Joleon Lescott and Matija Nastasic still managed to look ponderous in open play.

Lescott was lucky to get away with a misjudgment that let in Sone Aluko after just seven minutes, and Hull would have taken an early lead had not the forward rolled his shot the wrong side of a post. While Joe Hart was off his line early and could take some credit for narrowing Aluko's options, the goalkeeper was badly exposed and Hull really should have taken advantage.

Danny Graham had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside from Robbie Brady's cross before the home side got their act together. Allan McGregor made two sharp reaction saves in quick succession to keep out goal-bound headers from Aleksandar Kolarov and Lescott, though significantly the first was from a corner and the second from a second-phase cross swung in after a corner had been cleared. At no point in the first half were Hull opened up by their opponents' passing.

As the interval approached there were signs of the locals becoming restless with the lack of attempts on goal, not to mention the lack of excitement, and they were far from reassured when Touré climbed to reach a Jesús Navas corner and sent in a header that would not have hit a target twice as tall.

There were grumbles, rather than boos, when the first half ended scoreless.

"All teams lose sometimes, it is how they respond that is the important thing," Pellegrini had told home supporters before the game. Facing their second newly promoted side in a week, Manchester City were not exactly responding with alacrity. Considering Robert Koren had also flashed a shot just inches wide of Hart's left-hand post, Hull had looked far more capable of opening the scoring.

Pellegrini reacted by sending on Alvaro Negredo to replace Edin Dzeko for the second half, a switch that immediately looked more promising when the substitute found space to reach a David Silva cross but failed to keep his header on target. Negredo then played in Silva to set up a half chance that Navas could not convert and the Etihad crowd at last began to make some noise. The breakthrough, when it came, took everyone by surprise on account of its sheer simplicity. Pablo Zabaleta galloped down the right on the overlap and hit a first-time cross, Negredo met it on the six-yard line to head downwards past McGregor for his second Premier League goal.

It was so straightforward you wondered what Manchester City had been doing for the previous hour. Not much in midfield would be the short answer. Touré was almost inconspicuous until he crashed a free-kick past McGregor to allow his side to breathe more easily a minute from the end, and it is not every week you can say that.

The scoreline might have been convincing enough at the final whistle, but Pellegrini's City are evidently still a work in progress. While the new manager has yet to hit on the right formation to bring the best out of Touré, Fernandinho and Navas, his opposite number could only envy his range of options.

"Look at the quality of the subs they brought on," Bruce said. "That's what you are up against. We haven't got the biggest of squads, but at Chelsea, here and against Norwich with 10 men, we've shown we can compete."