Roberto Mancini will be asking his midfielders his to raise their game once again when they face Liverpool on Sunday afternoon.
Patrick Vieira's three match suspension means that the City manager will not be able to select the trio of the Frenchman, Gareth Barry and Nigel de Jong as he has preferred to at times since Vieira's return to fitness.
That means that Stephen Ireland could be one option for Mancini, who sees the battle with Gerrard, Mascherano and Aquilani as key to the result of Sunday's sell-out showdown.
He said, "Without Patrick we really only have Nigel, Gareth and Stephen as midfielders. I have asked a lot of them so far and probably will do against Liverpool, but they have done well for us.
To win we will have to concentrate at all times and play to our maximum. We can’t leave any space for them. It will be a very different game to those against Stoke, we need to put our way of playing on Liverpool which I think we should be able to.
With the two sides so close in the table and with so much at stake, Mancini has echoed Shaun Wright-Phillips in asking for City's fans to influence proceedings as much as they can.
"They will be most important to us on Sunday, we need them because it is such a big game against a good side that is so near to us in the table. They can push the team on and be like the 12th player."