The hosts were ahead on 20 minutes through Bongani Ndulula before James Milner levelled for the Blues just six minutes later.
Despite largely dominating thereafter, there was a sting in the tail for City as Abdul Razak's foul was deemed a penalty and Carlington Nyadombo duly dispatched the spot-kick with just seconds remaining.
The headlines will say the Blues have now lost successive pre-season games, but this was a much better performance than the 2-0 loss against SuperSport last Sunday.
With South Africa still celebrating Nelson Mandela Day, there was a crackle of electricity in the air as City began their second tour match.
AmaZulu, about a month further along with their own preparations for the upcoming Premier Soccer League campaign, were hoping to cap former President Mandela’s birthday with a victory to cap off a memorable occasion so were, in many ways, the perfect opposition to enhance the Blues’ match fitness.
With boss Manuel Pellegrini having to fly home to Chile for family reasons, Brian Kidd took up the reins for the evening having enjoyed a four-match spell as caretaker boss for the final two games of the Premier League season plus the post-season tour of the USA.
There is little to read into the starting line-ups at this stage with most of the 23-man squad seeing some action during the game. Sergio Aguero was one noticeable absentee with the Blues’ talisman suffering from a slight knock in training.
City looked much fresher than they had been against SuperSport and Samir Nasri’s clever free-kick on eight minutes nearly opened the scoring, but keeper Tapuwa Kapini was equal to the dipping shot, pushing the ball around the post.
In an entertaining opening to the game, both teams stroked the ball around with confidence, but it was a rare Aleksandar Kolarov howler that led to the hosts taking the lead on 20 minutes.
The Serbian left-back received the ball under pressure near the halfway line and elected to play a long pass back to Joe Hart, but instead, it fell short and invitingly for Ndulula who rounded the City No.1 before rolling the ball into the empty net.
Fortunately, Kolarov didn’t have to live with his mistake for too long as City hit back within six minutes as Scott Sinclair’s cross found Yaya Toure whose off-target header fell kindly for Milner who rasped a right-foot shot home from the corner of the six-yard box.
It was the beginning of a purple patch for the Blues who saw Fernandinho and Nasri go close soon after as well as several flowing moves come to a halt in the box where Micah Richards was a continual threat down the right
...AmaZulu 2 City 1..
Kidd opted not to make wholesale changes at the break and as a result, City continued to dominate after the break, finding plenty of joy down the flanks - clearly a Pellegrini trademark - and an excellent Kolarov cross should have resulted in a second goal on the hour-mark, but Edin Dzeko’s shot was well saved by Aubrey Mathibe, the second-half AmaZulu keeper sub.
As so often in pre-season, the game became disjointed as both teams made numerous changes and the best chance of the final quarter for City fell to Alex Nimely who dragged a low shot wide after good work from Sinclair.
With a solid display and a draw on the horizon, sub Razak lost the ball and then fouled his man in the box leaving the referee no option but to point to the spot. Nyadombo dispatched the penalty past Costel Pantilimon to give the home fans the perfect end to a memorable day.
A definite step up from Sunday's defeat, the Blues were sharper, more inventive and most certainly fitter. All good signs with the team heading for Hong Kong over the weekend where the match fitness will kick on again.