Match ends, Manchester City 4, Southampton 1.
Manchester City turned the screw on their Premier League title rivals by beating Southampton at Etihad Stadium.
But there was bad news for watching England boss Roy Hodgson as Saints striker Jay Rodriguez was carried off with what looked like a serious knee injury.
That came after Yaya Toure's penalty had given the hosts the lead, though Rickie Lambert equalised with a spot-kick of his own.
Goals from Samir Nasri and Edin Dzeko in first-half stoppage time, then a late effort from Stevan Jovetic, made it 14 wins from 15 home league games for City this season.
The victory moved them to within a point of leaders Liverpool, who visit West Ham on Sunday having already played a game more than Manuel Pellegrini's men.
And it was the perfect preparation for a trip to Anfield eight days from now in a match that could go a long way towards deciding the outcome of the title race.
Early arrivals were greeted by the sight of Sergio Aguero being put through his paces, surely a prelude to the City striker's return from a hamstring injury next weekend.
But the pre-match news was not as positive for the visitors, with goalkeeper Artur Boruc's absence with a back problem giving 22-year-old Paulo Gazzaniga an unexpected start.
With such a key change forced upon manager Mauricio Pochettino, Saints needed to make a positive start, but Jose Fonte gifted City a goal inside two minutes.
Contact was minimal between him and Edin Dzeko, but Fonte had given the Bosnian a leg to fall over in the box and was therefore the architect of his own downfall.
Predictably, Toure confidently netted from the spot.
Nasri fired wide shortly afterwards but Southampton managed to stem the early impetus and, without creating a clear-cut chance, were certainly in the contest when Rodriguez departed.
Climbing high to control the ball, the 24-year-old crumpled on landing and immediately clutched his right knee, departing on a stretcher to a standing ovation.
While England do not begin their World Cup campaign until June 14, there must be serious doubt whether Rodriguez will be fit to figure in Hodgson's thoughts.
But Saints team-mate Lambert's hopes of travelling to Brazil will be aided by his penalty record.
By driving past Joe Hart after Pablo Zabaleta had fouled Jack Cork, Lambert extended his 100% record to 31 successful spot-kicks for the Saints.
City were distinctly lethargic - but like most champion teams have an ability to win ugly, and in the four minutes of first-half stoppage time, they turned the contest firmly in their favour.
A delightful move involving Toure, Dzeko and David Silva presented Nasri with the easiest of finishes, though City could count themselves fortunate given Silva was offside when he provided the assist.
There was nothing lucky about their third, though, as Dzeko powered home Aleksandar Kolarov's cross.
The scoring spree took the edge off the second half.
Jesus Navas's low shot produced a feet-first save from Gazzaniga before Toure had a penalty appeal waved away after going down under Fonte's challenge, and was then booked for diving after the same pair came together in the box once more.
City had the game sewn up by then, with Jovetic providing the final flourish when he tapped Navas's low cross into an empty net 10 minutes from time, condemning Southampton to their biggest away defeat of the season.
For a photo gallery from Saturday's Premier League action, visit the BBC Sport Facebook page.
- 25FernandinhoBooked at 44minsSubstituted forGarcía Fernándezat 45'minutesBooked at 68mins
- 42Y TouréBooked at 78mins
- 10DzekoSubstituted forNegredoat 65'minutes
- 21SilvaSubstituted forJoveticat 77'minutes
- 14García Fernández
- 6José Fonte
- 18CorkSubstituted forWanyamaat 80'minutes
- 8DavisSubstituted forGallagherat 75'minutes
- 9RodriguezSubstituted forWard-Prowseat 26'minutes
- 21Do Prado
- Chris Foy
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Manchester City 4, Southampton 1.
Foul by Adam Lallana (Southampton).
Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Luke Shaw.
Foul by James Ward-Prowse (Southampton).
Yaya Touré (Manchester City) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Victor Wanyama (Southampton) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Yaya Touré (Manchester City).
Foul by Jose Fonte (Southampton).
Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Attempt saved. Yaya Touré (Manchester City) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Jesús Navas.
Corner, Manchester City. Conceded by Dejan Lovren.
Corner, Southampton. Conceded by Pablo Zabaleta.
Attempt saved. Álvaro Negredo (Manchester City) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Javi García with a through ball.
Goal! Manchester City 4, Southampton 1. Stevan Jovetic (Manchester City) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jesús Navas with a cross.
Substitution, Southampton. Victor Wanyama replaces Jack Cork.
Yaya Touré (Manchester City) is shown the yellow card.
Yaya Touré (Manchester City) has gone down, but that's a dive.
Substitution, Manchester City. Stevan Jovetic replaces David Silva.