As example of the vice-like grip the slick visitors exerted on proceedings here, the Hornets had completed 55 passes by the hour mark. Rodri, the powerhouse in the middle of midfield, made 65 in the same period. It was extremely tough going against a freewheeling City side who rolled Riyad Mahrez and John Stones off the bench in the second half.
The Hornets had to be at full tilt throughout and hope City had an off day. The home side were, to their credit, at it early on, really at it, and produced easily their best start to a game since the restart.
The recalled Roberto Pereyra set the tone with a press on Eric Garcia and the rest followed him. You had Adrian Mariappa crashing into João Cancelo on the byline; Will Hughes thundering into Phil Foden; the irrespressible Tom Cleverley having two bites off Raheem Sterling and getting in the way of a shot from the England international; Kiko Femenía nipped in smartly on one ahead of Foden while Hughes made a very well-timed tackle on Kevin De Bruyne on the byline. It was a hugely promising start and they did very well to keep City largely at arms' length.
Foster was only really called into action when making another in a long list of remarkable saves, this time to palm wide a deflected shot from Rodri. Most 'keepers would have given up the ghost but not Foster.
The Hornets, as they would have expected, had to feed off scraps, the odd crumb from the top table City dine at, which is why Hughes was so disappointed not to make more of the snapshot he attempted after ten minutes following a long throw. There was another attempt on 26 minutes from Cleverley, but that fell into the speculative category.