Manchester City’s defeat to Aston Villa in midweek left the Premier League champions’ title defence on the rocks.
The intense Christmas calendar period is set to test both their physical and mental fatigue and to add to the pressure, City will fly to Saudi Arabia next week to play in their first ever Club World Cup.
But concerned City fans need only look to past seasons under Pep Guardiola, who has instilled a resilient comeback culture during his seven years in charge.
Here are the gaps they have had to overhaul in their four Premier League title wins under Guardiola.
8 points: 2022-23
Arsenal broke the record for most days spent at the top of the league last season without winning the title – 248 days. On 28 January, Arsenal led City by eight points.
Arteta’s side eventually slipped up against the likes of West Ham and Brighton in the run-in, and a 4-1 defeat to City at the Etihad Stadium in late April proved to be a turning point.
2 points: 2021-22
Liverpool went the full distance in the title race with Manchester City a season earlier, taking it all to a dramatic last day.
It summed up Manchester City’s ability to defy the odds, as Guardiola’s team had to come back from 2-0 down against Aston Villa.
Ironically, Steven Gerrard was Villa’s manager on the day, failing to gift his former club their second Premier League title as they conceded three goals in five minutes.
After 10 games they had trailed Liverpool by two points, but 11 games later had built up a 10-point lead and just about held on.
7 points: 2020-21
City’s title win in 2021 concluded in more comfortable fashion, as they finished 12 points ahead of local rivals Manchester United.
Guardiola restored City’s dominance after the previous season, which was mostly played behind closed doors because of the pandemic and won by Liverpool.
But at one stage just before Christmas they were seven points adrift of the men from Merseyside, before mounting a now-traditional charge in the second half of the campaign.
7 points: 2018-19
The 2018-19 season was arguably City’s most challenging as they thwarted Liverpool’s title bid, but only by a single point.
Liverpool were top of the table at Christmas and led by seven points at the halfway stage of the season, only for Guardiola’s side to reel them in and win their first championship under the Spaniard.
City may have to pull off the same trick this season as in 18-19 and 22-23, given that they are unlikely to be top of the table by the time Boxing Day fixtures are played.
But as they have shown, City under Guardiola should never be underestimated.