Kevin de Bruyne served notice of his intent with a shot inside 10 seconds, and the Belgian continued to torment Bournemouth all afternoon with a masterclass in attacking midfield play.
City were simply too hot for the Cherries to handle on a sunny September day at the Etihad Stadium, with Pep Guardiola’s players moving the ball swiftly and decisively all afternoon.
Throw in Ilkay Gundogan’s maiden City goal, another excellent display from Sterling and a return to the matchday squad for Vincent Kompany, and City fans will be brimming with optimism about just what this season could deliver, even if Nolito's departure for a clash with Adam Smith was a late disappointment.
De Bruyne put City ahead with a shrewd free-kick placed under the jumping Cherries wall. Bustling winger Nolito earned the set-piece, driving at the Bournemouth defence, with Jack Wilshere bringing him down.
City doubled the lead with a devastating counter-attack from a Bournemouth free-kick. Nolito fed De Bruyne, who timed and placed his pass to Sterling to perfection. He squared for Kelechi Iheanacho to tap in a simple finish for his third goal in three games.
Guardiola’s side were dominant – Bournemouth for the most part chasing shadows cast onto the sun-drenched Etihad turf - although Bacary Sagna was required to make one goal-saving tackle to deny Junior Stanislas.
City scored again just minutes after the restart via a mirror image of the second goal. De Bruyne broke, but this time fed Iheanacho, who unselfishly rolled the ball across for Sterling to feather the ball in.
More excellent interplay from Gael Clichy, Nolito and De Bruyne gave Gundogan his chance, the Germany international staying ice cool to finish past Artur Boruc. Callum Wilson hit the bar late on for Bournemouth, but that was close as the visitors came.
City’s second goal. Bournemouth were hoping to create a chance for themselves from Jordan Ibe’s free-kick after 24 minutes, instead Guardiola’s side hit Bournemouth with a lightning counter and went two up.
Man of the match
Kevin De Bruyne – the Belgian scored the first, and although he won’t get the assist for the second or third, he delivered the defence splitting passes on both occasions. He did get the assist for Gundogan before being substituted off to a standing ovation. A player in total control of his game.
Photo of the match
How they lined up
Aleks Kolarov was used at centre-back again, with Gael Clichy in the left-fullback position. Fernandinho was the deepest lying midfielder, with Gundogan and De Bruyne roaming forward and linking play ahead of the Brazilian. With Nolito coming back into the side on the left wing, Sterling reverted to the right, with Iheanacho up front.
What it means
City will stay on top of the Premier League table thanks to their flawless start, five points clear of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal.
Stats and milestones
The game was City’s 250th Etihad Premier League home game
It was their 154th win of those
City have now won seven and drawn two of nine league meetings with Bournemouth
City have not been behind in any Premier League game this season
Kelechi Iheanacho’s goal was his 10th goal in 14 shots on target in the PL