Pep Guardiola has professed his satisfaction after Manchester City came through as comfortable winners against Newcastle United - but acknolwedged that there is no plain sailing this term as he chases a top-four berth.
Goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Ferran Torres handed the Blues a relatively routine result against Steve Bruce's Magpies to deliver a late Boxing Day present of three points at the Etihad Stadium, in miserable conditions crafted by Storm Bella.
The result delivered back-to-back top-flight wins for only the second time this season for City, who - so used to starting their campaigns with an imperious run of results - have only just found their footing after a surprisingly difficult opening stretch.
Victory has now moved them up to fifth however, just a point off fourth-place Manchester United and three off Everton in second - with both Mancunian clubs also blessed with a game in hand to improve their standing.
Now restored to their familiar position of top-four favourites in the table however, Guardiola is refusing to get carried away, pointing to his side's hectic schedule, condensed further by their Carabao Cup and Champions League success, as keeping their focus on the immediate future.
"[It was ] a tough game, [with the weather conditions and [an] opponent who we have struggled to score against," the Spaniard told his post-match press conference.
"That is the tempo we need to play. Today our positional game was perfect, unfortunately we could not score more goals but it is a good result and three more points.
"We cannot think much, the schedule is a game every three days. The players are committed and focused.
"We are far away from the top, last week we were 10th in the table, all the season is up and down. There are weird results for everyone, this season you have to be calm in the good and the bad moments.
"We played really well, the tempo we have to play football is this tempo. Today was the best game of the season for players being in the position they have to be in."
Guardiola also offered resigned criticism of the FA's festive fixture logjam amid the coronavirus pandemic, with City facing a 48-hour turnaround before they face Everton on December 28.
"Tomorrow the players have to regenerate and prepare in one day," he added. "This pandemic puts us in an extreme situation, but that's how England [and the FA] likes it so we accept it."