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Messi back with a bang as Barcelona shows it's ready for City and Pep

Lightning doesn't strike thrice. After throwing away a two-goal lead in each of its past two league games against Deportivo La Coruna, Barcelona went on to score all four itself this time. And Lionel Messi was back with bang.

WATCH: Messi scores immediately upon return from injury

The Argentine attacker, out with an adductor strain since Sept. 21, came on in the 55th minute and wasted little time as he rifled a fine finish into the net following a Neymar pass shortly afterward.

Over in Manchester, Pep Guardiola was otherwise occupied. The Catalan coach was busy watching his side in a 1-1 draw at home against Everton. It was City's third successive match without a win, although two penalty misses told a story. In the end, Nolito scored to earn a point for the Premier League leaders. But Barca in this form will be a different proposition altogether.

Last year, Guardiola traveled to Camp Nou to watch Barca in action against City, applauding alongside his father in the stands and covering his face in amazement in a Messi master-class in which the Argentine nutmegged James Milner.

READ MORE: Nolito proves his worth for Man City as Guardiola rides his luck

There were moments of brilliance again from the five-time Ballon d'Or winner in this one and Pep will no doubt watch the tape before Wednesday's meeting between the two teams at Camp Nou. Not that there is much he doesn't know about his former forward anyway.

As well as the Argentine's comeback from injury, Barca was boosted by Rafinha's emergence (the Brazilian international now has four goals from as many starts in La Liga this season) and the return to form of Suarez — although the Catalans will be sweating on his condition after he sat out the second half.

One other small negative was Paco Alcacer's continued strife in front of goal. The Spain striker, who signed from Valencia in the summer, played the second period and got into some excellent positions, but saw three chances squandered in the latter stages and even Luis Enrique looked stunned as the last of those went the wrong side of the post.

RATINGS: Barcelona 4-0 Deportivo

Alcacer's moment will come, but this was an emphatic response from Barcelona after its 4-3 loss to Celta Vigo prior to the international break and, on this form, the Catalans look ready to face City on Wednesday.

With Messi back, everything is different.