After an early goal from Samir Nasri appeared to give the Citizens the advantage, three goals in quick succession late on gave Spurs three points.
Nasri opened the scoring with just four minutes gone as Manchester City, tapping home James Milner's cross to give the Citizens the lead.
Despite appearing to be in control, the away side allowed Dempsey to tap home Bale's cross with 15 minutes remaining, before Defoe and Bale scored in quick succession to give Spurs a vital win.
Andre Villas-Boas made two changes from the side that earned a 2-2 draw against Basel as Benoit Assou-Ekotto and, more notably, Gareth Bale returned to the first team at the expense of Kyle Naughton and Lewis Holtby.
Roberto Mancini, meanwhile, rotated his side heavily, making five changes from the team that beat Wigan 1-0 on Wednesday with Pablo Zabaleta, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy, James Milner and Edin Dzeko all coming in to replace Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Alexander Kolarov, Javi Garcia and Sergio Aguero.
After a fairly frantic start, it took just four minutes for the first goal to come. Excellent work from Carlos Tevez resulted in the striker putting Milner in behind the Spurs defense, who, at the by line, duly cut back to the waiting Nasri. The ball was slightly behind the Frenchman but he adapted well, turning the ball home adeptly on the volley to give the away side the lead.
The goalscorer was at the center of the controversy just minutes later as Nasri went in high on Kyle Walker. Despite calls for a red, referee Lee Mason deemed the challenge unworthy of even a foul.
Walker then spurned what eventually transpired to be Tottenham's only real chance of the half as, after Dempsey put him in on goal, the right back squandered a chance to level the scoring as Hart smothered his effort adeptly.
Following that missed opportunity, City quickly took the initiative and, with Tevez largely pulling the strings, almost doubled the lead before the break. Nasri and Dzeko both went close after being put through by the Argentine, the former hitting just wide and the latter hitting Lloris in the Spurs goal.
After the break, it took until the 70th minute before the second half truly sparked into life as Tottenham started to pile on the pressure and it was not long before the away side capitalized. It was Bale who created the goal as, after receiving the ball on the right wing from Walker, the Welshman drove it to the back post with the outside of his left foot, finding Dempsey who duly tapped home to put Spurs level.
Tottenham's momentum continued and it was mere minutes before the home side completed the comeback with another goal, courtesy of substitute Jermain Defoe. After the striker received the ball on the left from Holtby, he ran at Kompany, cutting inside before lashing an unstoppable effort past Hart into the far corner.
The home side's impetus appeared unstoppable as it extended the lead a few minutes later. Following a lovely run and pass from Huddlestone Bale was through on goal and delightfully dinked over Hart to put Spurs 3-1 up and seemingly out of sight.