Stephen is urging his City team-mates to turn back the clock to their finest hour and a half of the European campaign when they tackle FC Copenhagen in Thursday's first leg of the UEFA Cup round of 32 in the Danish capital.
Mark Hughes' side finished top of their group despite stumbling 3-1 in the dead-rubber at Santander, but it is the magnificent 2-0 victory over Schalke in Germany that the City midfielder sees as the yardstick for success.
City are among the favourites to go all the way to the Istanbul final on May 20, and Ireland, one of the men of the season so far, pinpoints that glory win against the Bundesliga giants as the template for a trip to Turkey.
The Blues began their UEFA journey in the Faroe Islands back in July, and Stevie said: "Every game in Europe has been different. We've had games where we've had to battle and there have been passing games as well.
"My first season in Europe's been a great experience and I've learned a lot from it. A European tie is often a great occasion and you tend to raise yourself because it is a special game.
"But for me, Schalke was probably the best game I've played and that the team has played. Everything went so well, from the way that we approached the game to the way that we played.
"From start to finish, it was a proper, complete performance. The team was a tight unit - we played some brilliant football and then took our chances when they came.
"We need to try and play every game like that in the Premier League as well as Europe. If we can do that on a consistent basis, we can achieve a lot."
Glyn Hodges' table-topping reserves - who play tonight against Hull at the Regional Athletics Arena, kick-off 7pm - broke new ground by jetting over with the seniors to play friendlies against their counterparts at Schalke and Santander.
They have to miss out this time around, but Ireland reckons: "It's been great for the youngsters to come over, not just to play a match themselves but to see what's going on and watch how the senior players prepare for a European tie.
"They're a good bunch of lads and they've had a taste of what it's like. When I was at the Academy we didn't get that chance, but it's good experience - it will help them to learn and and hopefully make them hungrier to kick on."