The year 2011 will be forever etched on City hearts as a historic FA Cup win ended the 35 year wait for silverware.
Without a major trophy since the League Cup in 1976, the Blues hadn’t advanced beyond the quarter finals of the FA Cup since tasting heartbreak in 1981 when a Ricky Villa wonder goal in the final condemned them to a runners-up spot.
But Roberto Mancini, who was enjoying his first full season as City boss, was brought in to write a new chapter in the club’s history, and banish the lean spell to years past.
If City fans were brimmed full of optimism as Third Round Day dawned in early January, the feelings of caution might have been creeping in by the end of 90 minutes away at Leicester.
...FA Cup glory 2011..
It was an emotional occasion following the decision to dedicate the game to Neil Young, City’s scorer in their last FA Cup triumph in 1969, who was terminally ill. Fans were decked out in red and black scarfs, and turned their backs to the action in the 24th minute in tribute to the talented former Blue.
Unfortunately, the football didn’t quite measure up to the occasion, and City limped to a replay against the Championship side with a 2-2 draw.The sailing was rather plainer in the replay in Manchester, when the Foxes were despatched 4-2.
A pattern seemed to be forming when a replay was once again required in the next round. League One side Notts County might have appeared an easy draw on paper but proved anything but, and Edin Dzeko’s first goal in a City shirt ten minutes from time could only ensure that the Blues would get another go.
In the end, County’s goal in the original fixture at Meadow Lane would prove a collector’s item – the last goal Mancini’s men conceded in their winning cup run.
Back in Manchester once more, the travel sickness was forgotten amid a 5-0 victory in front of a delighted home crowd to progress to the fifth round at the second time of asking.
Aston Villa were the visitors this time for the first straightforward win of the competition. FA Cup legend Yaya Toure provided a glimpse of things to come with the opening goal, and Mario Balotelli and David Silva also chipped in to carry the side into the quarterfinals.
Fans’ shredded nerves and fingernails were probably owed a couple of rounds off by now, but Reading, the last side outside the top flight left in the competition, would prove a tough nut to crack.
It took 75 minutes and a Micah Richards header before the Poznan could make an appearance and songs of Wembley could be sung with much confidence, and even then the Royals continued to surge forward in search of their own FA Cup dream.
In the end, it was sky blue that was victorious, and all eyes were on Wembley – the Blues’ first appearance at the London stadium since 1999 would be for an FA Cup semi-final against neighbours and rivals Manchester United.
A sunny London day was the perfect venue for a thrilling Mancunian derby, and a boisterous atmosphere in the stands matched a frenetic game on the pitch.
City had weathered an initial storm before exerting their dominance across the park, but it was down to Ivorian powerhouse Yaya Toure to settle the match with a thumping strike past Edwin van der Sar.
The sky blue half of the stadium went wild and City held on for a famous victory, although the narrow margin did not reflect the Blues’ superiority.
City would be making a second trip to Wembley that season for the final, ahead of their vanquished neighbours.
Stoke were the opponents for a game in which the City tide surged forward time and again but could not quite find the breakthrough to make it count.
But if there was one man that the Blues could depend on it was Yaya, who relishes a day out at Wembley these days and delivered once again, smashing the ball into the same net as his semi-final winner.
Pandemonium ensued. The loud roar as the trophy was hoisted high signified a new era of success.
As the players celebrated their medals, they were quick to remember their loyal fans who had waited so long to taste victory once more.
Look at what it means to our fans - it's been 35 years. It's just unbelievable.”
It's fantastic. Winning the FA Cup is so important for our fans, and it's amazing.
History had been made, and a new generation dared to dream of even greater heights.