Gareth Barry believes Wednesday evening’s clash with Wigan Athletic will be a dress rehearsal of the FA Cup final in more ways than one.
With Roberto Martinez’s team desperate for points to haul themselves out of the relegation zone, Barry is expecting a focused and determined Wigan to turn up at the Etihad Stadium.
The Blues, meanwhile, will be hoping to maintain their superb recent league and cup form.
"Wigan will have to treat this game like a cup final because of their position in the table so in many ways, it will be a dress rehearsal for the FA Cup,” he said.
“Wigan can’t afford to lose too many games in the weeks that remain but they have proved over the years that they can somehow hit form in the latter stages and do enough to stay up so this will be a hard game.”
Barry admits the Latics’ unpredictability makes them dangerous opposition, too, adding: “They’ve proved that at their best, they can play fantastic football and beat anyone
But they have also had a lot of games where they have been well beaten so you never know which Wigan will turn up.
“We will prepare for the Wigan that turns on the style and expect it to be a tricky evening. If we win, it maintains our aim of finishing as strongly as possible and it would also help my old club Aston Villa who are a great club and I’d like to see them retain their Premier League status.”
Barry believes the wins over United and Chelsea prove that the Blues have perhaps underachieved this season, but he thinks lessons have been learned and the aim of finishing this campaign as strongly as possible will drive City over the finishing line.
“It is frustrating in many ways because we’ve shown what a great team we are and what a strong we have in the last few games,” he said.
“So it’s only natural to think that had we played at our best all year we could have had a great chance of retaining the title, but that’s probably not going to be, now.
“We’ve had injuries this year we didn’t have last time around and we have almost a fully-fit squad now and I think it shows. Micah is just about there now and the manager can pick his strongest squad which I don’t think he’s been able to very often - if at all this season.
“All we can do is take each game as it comes, play our best and try and win. Next season we will be back and have learned from what has happened and the aim will be to win the title back.”