Roberto Mancini praised his side’s character after a 3-1 win at Newcastle kept the Blues in the thick of the title race.
But, even as fans glowed in the aftermath of a sixth away win this season, the Italian warned that City must improve at home if they are to be up at the top come the end of the campaign.
Two goals from Carlos Tevez and one from Gareth Barry were enough to propel the Blues to glory on the banks of the Tyne but it was James Milner who really caught the manager’s eye.
“We were two up in a few minutes but I wouldn’t call Newcastle generous,” said the City chief.
“The game changed with those goals but Newcastle made it very difficult for us. They are a strong side and they look for Andy Carroll a lot. I thought we defended him well.
“It was important for us to work hard and that is what we did. James Milner was fantastic in this game. All the players did well but he stood out. Our concentration under pressure was good too.”
After a first double of the season, Mancini now has eyes on successive home wins over Villa and Blackpool which would make this a holiday season to remember.
“We have to improve at the City of Manchester Stadium,” he declared. “We got the reaction we wanted after the defeat to Everton now we must perform like this again against Aston Villa.
“It was important to re-start with a win after not going top of the table before Christmas. As I said then, the season is long and there is time to recover lost ground.
“We have an incredible four games in ten days and we will make changes against Villa because we must recover in the 38 hours and that is not an easy thing to do.
“All players must be ready to play that is why we have a strong squad.”