• Clear three-goal win needed to finish top of Group D
• Manuel Pellegrini still likely to rotate his team
On the face of it Manchester City's trip to play Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena has the look not just of an impossible job but of a rather meaningless one too, a high-end exhibition match with all the trimmings. City need to beat Bayern by three clear goals in their own indomitable illuminated doughnut of a stronghold to overhaul them at the top of Group D rather than simply qualify in second place.
It may happen. Just as Manuel Pellegrini – who on the eve of City's final Group D match still seems not so much dismayed at fielding questions from the English press as filled with an ineffable sorrow –may yet arrive at Tuesday's post-match debrief juggling Knusperhäuschen biscuits and handing out Glühwein. But it is probably best not to count on it.
For all that, this is still the most intriguing of half-dead rubbers, even if almost all of the peripheral interest is on City's side. Before training in the Allianz Arena Martín Demichelis, a Bayern player for seven and a half years, was asked if City were coming to Bavaria to seek revenge for the chasteningly decisive 3-1 defeat at the Etihad in October.
"Yes, we are," he said. "In football a lot can happen. We're playing 11 versus 11. It's very hard to win here but we must try to do that. We also have a very good squad and great players, and right from the start we have to do our best and score a goal.
"It's very hard to say what the weak points are for Bayern Munich. Every week I could analyse them and it's very hard to see a weak point for this team. We have to play with real fire in our stomachs."
It is understandable that City would wish to apply a little balm to the memory of that previous defeat, during which Bayern looked not just a more settled, seasoned European power but a team from another footballing planet.
Never mind that with the visit of Arsenal on Saturday in mind Pellegrini is certain to rotate his team. And never mind that when it comes to seeking revenge City are simply going to have to join the queue here: Bayern have won their past 11 matches, their past 10 in the Champions League and 7-0 away from home at the weekend.
Pellegrini is too shrewd not to use the trip as a testing ground for his evolving team before the group stages. There could be no greater test of his commitment to playing with two strikers than a match against Europe's midfield superpower, a champion team that almost make a fetish of midfield strength, technical and numerical.
One man who seems almost certain to play is Joe Hart, whose travails reached a tipping point against Bayern in October. "For him [Hart] it is a very important game," Pellegrini said. "I am not thinking about the past, just thinking about the future. What is sure is I trust him."