As the first of Manchester City's two warm-up matches before they take on Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup Final next Saturday, it was an unqualified success. They fielded a strong team against Swansea, close to the one who will start at Wembley, and picked up no injuries. More of the same, please, against West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Yet as a microcosm of City's season, it was painful to watch. Chance after chance went begging, mostly in the second half, and it is not difficult to calculate where it all went wrong and where City allowed their neighbours, Manchester United, to reclaim the Premier League crown.
City have not scored enough goals. They have amassed 18 fewer than United and, perhaps more pertinently, 26 fewer than they had racked up at the same stage last season. When Edin Dzeko fluffed his lines near the end and David Silva repeated the trick soon after, it was grotesquely symptomatic of City's campaign.
Points mean prizes, goals mean glory. City have had neither in sufficient quantity. Still, the runners-up slot in the league – which they will secure with a win over West Brom – and a Cup triumph over relegation-threatened Wigan might be enough to give Roberto Mancini, the City manager, another year in the Etihad hot seat.
"We are 90% sure of second place," he said. "I am not satisfied with that because I wanted to win the Premier. But we can do nothing about that now. We should have second place and we are in the Cup final. I think we should be satisfied with that."
Satisfaction comes in many forms but, in the era of the must-win club owners, City's Sheikh Mansour may yet consider that No2 in the league and No1 in the Cup is not good enough. Here, most of City's frailties were laid bare for all to see in the most tepid of contests.
Mancini gave few of his stars a breather before the Cup final. But those same stars responded initially as if their minds were already drifting towards Wembley, allowing Swansea to play with the measured freedom that has become their trademark. In a bright and breezy first half, the League Cup winners sliced through the static defence time and again.
Pablo Hernández blazed over from a Nathan Dyer pass, Wayne Routledge was denied only by a last-ditch Sami Nasri challenge and Michu volleyed grotesquely wide from a Routledge cross. Swansea should have been awarded a penalty when Michu touched the ball on only to be blatantly clattered by Matija Nastasic.
Mike Jones, the referee, somehow failed to spot what almost everyone else must have. Not that Michael Laudrup, the Swansea manager, was statistically surprised. "It was a penalty," he said. "But for 35 league matches, we have had no penalty. Maybe we will get one next match, maybe next year."
City gradually improved but still lacked penetration and had only a penalty claim – when Dzeko tumbled over José Flores's outstretched leg – to show for their efforts. Jones, this time, was probably right to turn down the appeals, despite Mancini's moaning. "It was not 100% a penalty," he said. "It was 200%."
Laudrup had more to whinge about. He has lost Michu, his 21-goal leading scorer, for the rest of the season due to a hamstring strain. Mancini later confirmed that Scott Sinclair, the City and former Swansea winger, was in a Manchester hospital with a blood clot in a shoulder.
Swansea, without a win in six matches, slowly lost their enterprise and retreated into a shell. Dzeko and Silva missed their sitters and the game drifted towards its natural conclusion – goalless and soulless.