Pep Guardiola's game-plan against Liverpool last month wasn't a particularly complex for once. The obvious objective was to target Trent Alexander-Arnold, so Jeremy Doku was selected on the left wing because he is both faster and more skilful than Jack Grealish. Doku completed more dribbles (11) than any other player in a Premier League game for more than two years. And yet it was Alexander-Arnold who had the bigger impact on the game. "Super-influential", as Jurgen Klopp put it in his post-match press conference.
The right-back may have needed plenty of help trying to contain Doku but, at the end of the day, the winger neither scored nor assisted. Alexander-Arnold, by contrast, proved decisive, netting a late leveller to earn Liverpool a precious point at the home of the champions.
Indeed, the abiding image of the game was the 25-year-old standing silently in front of the home fans, his right index finger pressed against his lips. He had silenced his critics yet again - and also helped Liverpool send a message to Man City.
After a torrid 2022-23 campaign, the resurgent Reds are second in the Premier League standings after 14 rounds and clearly capable of challenging for the title this season. They are not the same side that lost 4-1 at the Etihad more than eight months ago - and Alexander-Arnold's not the same player either. They've both evolved.