Manchester City making waves
Manchester City's ruthless pursuit of success has ruffled feathers around the Premier League. The spectacular umbrage taken by Everton at the relentless pursuit of Joleon Lescott is the prime exhibit.
Eastlands is an environment growing in confidence - confident enough to poke a little fun at neighbours Manchester United and for even time-served City sufferers such as Noel Gallagher to detect the end of "30-odd years of sheer pain with this club."
"Manchester thanks you, Sheikh Mansour" read the giant banner draped over a balcony inside Eastlands. Not all of Manchester mind you, but certainly every City supporter at their opening home game against Wolves.
And with chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak checking on Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan's vast investments, manager Mark Hughes will have been satisfied to see £50m worth make a miniscule repayment when Carlos Tevez set up Emmanuel Adebayor's winner.
As Oasis icon Gallagher also said as he revelled in a perfect start to this campaign of renewal fuelled by the Abu Dhabi billions, most City fans would happily swap popularity for silverware in a heartbeat.
After years of suffering with noses pressed against the window watching Manchester United take all before them, City fans will rightly ask why they should care that this new era is being fuelled by huge finance and might just upset a few people along the way.
They, perhaps understandably, scent the whiff of jealousy in some quarters - and is the heavy use of pounds, dollars and roubles not how success was secured for Manchester United, Liverpool and in particular Chelsea?
Hughes, for one, is unrepentant and even hinted more new faces could arrive after Lescott finally completes the summer's most protracted and acrimonious transfer.
City's spending is almost ludicrously lavish and has distorted the market, but they are not the first club spending £20m-plus on players on a regular basis (a glance in the direction of Old Trafford tells us this) and pretty much every Premier League fan would celebrate investment on a similar scale.
Of course Everton have every right to chase City down to the authorities if they suspect chicanery, but surely their pain is eased by the payment of a fee of £22m plus add-ons that is arguably at least twice what England defender Lescott is actually worth.
The trick for Hughes is to ensure the ruthlessness that has so unsettled Everton is in evidence on the pitch - but some things cannot be changed by countless millions and City's desire to make life difficult for themselves is one of them.
City should have had three points safely secured before half-time, with Tevez and Adebayor combining to great effect and Robinho and Shaun Wright-Phillips lurking on the margins with menace.
Tevez is going to be a splendid bone of contention in Manchester this season. My view that in the long-term he will not be a big miss for Manchester United is clearly not shared by City's supporters.
They are acutely aware of how United's fans lobbied vociferously for Sir Alex Ferguson to sign the Argentine and are determined to brandish this very obvious symbol of their new opulence under their noses.
"Fergie, Fergie Sign Him On" was heard regularly at Old Trafford last season - and it was delivered here with heavy doses of irony.
City fully deserved their win to justify the expecatations of their supporters, but there were hints of the conundrum that awaits Hughes in coming weeks, even after the arrival of Lescott.
Hughes employed a full range of firepower, even with Craig Bellamy staying on the bench until after the hour and Roque Santa Cruz continuing his rehabilitation - and it worked a treat against a Wolves side who showed no belief until after the break.
When Wolves did convince themselves they could do damage, City looked vulnerable as Matt Jarvis forced keeper Shay Given to excel and Andy Keogh hit the bar. It would have been grand larceny had Wolves levelled, but the unlikely prospect, created by City's carelessness, made for an anxious conclusion.
Richard Dunne had an uneasy afternoon alongside Kolo Toure, but there must be a measure of sympathy because he was surely aware of Lescott's imminent signing before kick-off.
Hughes will need to balance the attacking talent at City with the need for greater pragmatism against better opposition - how well he does this will have a major bearing on shaping the future.
Gareth Barry's quietly effective contribution emphasised the wisdom of his purchase. He will anchor the entire side alongside the gifted Stephen Ireland, who will be as vital to the cause as anyone lured by the Eastlands transfer fund.
Lescott will be the man expected to provide the extra insurance at the back, and will be under serious pressure to deliver given the furore created by his move and the over-inflated price that has eventually been paid.
Like so much of what is unfurling at the club, City's team is a work in progress and the realistic assessment is more likely to be top six than top four - although heavy spending is sure to come if they are in Champions League contention in January.
But for now, two wins out of two will do and Eastlands was a happy place to be on Saturday. Hughes has the task of keeping it that way - and making sure the satisfaction that spread across Khaldoon Al Mubarak's face at the final whistle remains firmly fixed.