RICHARD DUNNE led the Blues to a thrilling 2-1 victory at Everton to end the eight-month search for an elusive away win in the Premier League then told his team-mates: "Everyone can be proud of the way we have played."
Strikes from Robinho and Stevie Ireland underscored a success against the FA Cup finalists that has injected fresh hope into the bid to reach manager Mark Hughes' target of seventh spot and swift return to Europe.
Everton started without star players Tim Cahill and Joleon Lescott and finished with ten men after England defender Phil Jagielka was carried off with a ll three home substitutes already on the pitch.
But there was no doubting the calibre of City's performance - and skipper Dunne insisted that his team-mates are not simply playing to book a role in manager Hughes' football Blueprint for next season and beyond.
Dunney, who put one over his old club, said: "That was a real team performance - when we have possession, nobody can deal with our skill on the ball, and once we put the work in to go with it, we're a really good side.
"We need more performances like this to show the manager we are worthy of playing in his team. He has his plans and he will sign players in the summer, there's nothing you can do about that. Players are putting in a performance to try and get us a highest Premier finish and hopefully with it Europe.
"We were disappointed to be knocked out by Hamburg but at the same time determined to get another chance. We realised that if we didn't win at Everton then it probably wasn't going to happen for us.
"Nobody has set a points target. We got three at Goodison but all the games coming up are hard. Blackburn next week are in a relegation battle and then Tottenham are like ourselves, going for that seventh place.
"But we were determined not to just let this season peter out in a few pointless matches. We really want that European place, and Everton was a great boost given that our away record has been really poor."
City's captain is said to be a target for at least one Premier League club this summer, but he added: "I definitely want to stay here and be part of the club as it pushes forward. I'm sure every player here feels the same."