Can Stoke's wingers unlock City defence?
Before the FA Cup semi-final against Bolton former Trotters boss Sam Allardyce insisted that Stoke were an exciting team based on the number of times they deliver the ball into the box.
It is an interesting way to describe a style which has had its critics but has also been very effective, and Allardyce seemed justified in his assessment after that Wembley tie given Stoke's commanding display - they hammered Bolton 5-0.
True, Owen Coyle's side were not at their best that day but Stoke manager Tony Pulis will be aiming to make a similar impression against Manchester City on Saturday in the Potters' first FA Cup final.
City will provide a tougher test - they showed their strengths to come through their last-four tie against Manchester United in what is becoming a trademark scoreline of 1-0.
And it may offer a different problem for Pulis after City edged their semi-final with pressing tactics that the Stoke boss would have been proud of.
"Yes they have a long throw, yes they are very good at set-pieces but why shouldn't they use that to their advantage?"
BBC Radio Stoke commentator Nigel Johnson, who has been reporting on the Potters for 43 years, endorses that view.
While he believes the current team may offer a different style from the days of their late manager Tony Waddington in the 1970s, he would still pay to watch Pulis's side if he wasn't working at the game.
"There is not a player who runs out with that red and white shirt on who will not give you 100% commitment," he says. "They earn their money.
"There are many teams where you could say that the players are taking their money under false pretences. You can't say that about Stoke. They are a totally switched on outfit who are very well motivated by their manager.
"They will pressurise Manchester City from the start, and if City get frustrated Stoke might benefit and come out on top."
As Stoke showed in the FA Cup semi-final and in the 3-1 win over Arsenal last Sunday they will not only aim to annoy their opponents.
The form which has taken them to the Wembley final, a place in Europe next season and eighth in the Premier League has been down to two in-form wingers who have provided the team with an attacking threat down either flank.
It says much about the displays of left-winger Matthew Etherington that some regard his inclusion on Saturday as crucial to Stoke's hopes as he battles back from a hamstring injury.
But even in his absence over recent weeks, right-midfielder Jermaine Pennant has proven that he can make an impact too, setting up one goal and scoring another during the victory over the Gunners at the Britannia Stadium.
"Stoke have two very good footballers in Etherington and Pennant and if they are given time and space they will run at defenders and get balls into the box where Kenwyne Jones will be waiting," Shearer states.
"For a striker, when you have two out-and-out wingers who like running at defenders, who like stretching teams and getting balls into the box, it makes for a system that all forwards like to play with."
Pennant demonstrated his ability to run with the ball in the Bolton semi-final, covering half the length of the field before setting up Jones for the third goal.
The Trinidadian striker has scored five goals in his last six matches and, alongside Jonathan Walters, will be aiming to break down a miserly City defence which has conceded only 33 goals in 36 Premier League games this season.
Two of those came at Everton last weekend where Sylvain Distin and Leon Osman both scored with headers in the 2-1 victory.
Pulis was at that game and would have watched with interest when constructing his game plan for Saturday.
During the first half City were able to dominate possession and took a deserved lead through Yaya Toure, but in the second period Everton pressed the ball with added vigour and delivered it into the box more quickly.
That will be music to the ears of Jones who, with Everton's Tim Cahill, has scored the most number of headed goals in the Premier League this season (6). The 26-year-old also tops the list for headers on goal with 39 attempts, and the number of headers on target with 16.
The job of stopping the Stoke forward will go to one of City's most consistent performers this season - centre-back Vincent Kompany.
With the Goodison Park lessons in mind and with Kompany flanked by Joleon Lescott and full-backs Micah Richards and Pablo Zabaleta, City should be able to handle themselves against any aerial barrage from Stoke.
But the threat will still remain at set-pieces, where Stoke have scored 44% of their Premier League goals this season, the highest percentage in the league.
That is why the return of the injured Robert Huth is crucial to Stoke's hopes.
"Not many teams are as big as Stoke, but City are one of them," adds Shearer. "They have players who can head the ball and attack it, and that will take the pressure off at times so I think it will be a fascinating contest.
"I don't think Stoke will change their game at all. They will play to their strengths and so they should - that is what got them there in the first place."
For those who still quibble about Stoke's methods, one final point - come Saturday Manchester City could field a starting XI worth £140m, whereas Stoke's cost a mere £26m, which is the approximate cost of Carlos Tevez.