A few months ago, a certain handsome, charming and funny writer (ahem) wrote a piece saying that Manchester City were a spent force, at least in their current guise.
The point was made that Vincent Kompany and Yaya Toure, in particular, looked like they'd gone over the cliff and would never be the integral part of a title-winning side like they were in 2013/14. The phrase "Kompany, while not yet absolutely dreadful, has become a liability," may have been used, as was "His time has passed," in reference to Yaya Toure.
The first three weeks of the new season have seen those judgements completely turned upside down. City are the only team in England's top three divisions with a 100% record, they've scored for fun and have yet to concede.
And they've done it with, Raheem Sterling aside, the exact same players as they had last season. Their highest goalscorer and assist maker? Kompany and Toure, respectively.
If City were beating chump teams, the way that Liverpool fans held up 1-0 wins over Stoke and Bournemouth as proof that they were flying, then City flying out of the blocks could be dismissed as nothing. An illusion of the fixture list. But they aren't.
Their 2-0 win at Everton on the weekend was all the more impressive for the way that the Toffees had demolished Southampton the previous week, but it's rightly the win over Chelsea that's still taking the attention.
The Blues lost just three times on their way to the Premier League title last season - once at Newcastle, once to a Harry Kane-inspired Spurs on New Years Day, and then once to West Brom with the title already wrapped up. Not a single defeat to their title challengers.
For that reason alone, City beating them at the Etihad was a huge result. Even if they'd ground out a gritty 1-0 win, it would've been a massive message to the rest of the teams in the league - but they didn't.
What City did instead was give Chelsea - to use a technical term - an absolute, thunderous, monumental, phenomenal pasting. The match ended 3-0, and Jose Mourinho slunk away with his tail between his legs. Mourinho! Chastened!
The City of last season would never have won that game 3-0. Chances are they would've struggled to win at all, with a fragile back-line and Toure misfiring.
So what's changed? It's difficult to pinpoint any single thing, except good players having time to go away over the summer and rest, recuperate, get their heads back in order and come back stronger. There's a sense of quiet belief in the team this season which was absent last term, and it's showing on the pitch.
City have gone from generous second-favourites for the title at the start of the season to odds-on favourites now. They haven't even played Nicolas Otamendi yet! They haven't even signed [insert £50m attacking star here] yet!
August is, clearly, far too early to declare champions. But with a five-point lead over the holders, the title is already City's to lose.
Chelsea, on the other hand, look a team in crisis. The loss at the Etihad could have been dismissed as a one-off - except that it wasn't. They've conceded at least two goals in all three of their games so far, including against West Brom (who, by the way, City beat 3-0).
Their defence is in tatters, with John Terry now so geriatric and slow that he literally* goes backwards when chasing strikers and Gary Cahill dropping in and out of the side for the 20-year-old Kurt Zouma.
Cesc Fabregas and Nemanja Matic's communication has been so bad that they look like they're speaking different languages in the midfield (maybe Fabregas didn't get very far through his copy of "Serbian for Dummies" over the summer?), and Diego Costa has been left without the excellent service he got accustomed to last season.
There's time for them to rectify their problems, of course. Every team has a blip or two through a season and City's will come sooner or later, but Mourinho has a lot of work to do to make sure that Chelsea are within striking range when that blip does come.
At the moment though, it looks like City are well on top as they go for their third Premier League title in five years.
*(Okay, not literally)
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