Manchester City have taken a giant stride towards yet another EFL Cup final courtesy of a 3-1 victory over local rivals Manchester United in the first leg of their semi-final at Old Trafford this evening.
The two-time defending champions scored all of their goals in a rampant and one-sided first half, with Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez putting them in control before an Andreas Pereira own goal threatened to kill the two-legged tie off less than a quarter into it.
However, having been utterly outclassed in the opening 45 minutes, United improved in the second half and pulled a goal back through Marcus Rashford to give themselves a slight glimmer of hope heading into the second leg at the Etihad Stadium later this month.
Man City will be firm favourites to advance to the final, though, as they look to lift the trophy for a fifth time in the last seven years and for the third time in a row - something which has not been achieved since 1984.
Both teams named strong starting lineups and had early threatening breaks forward, but it was not until the opening goal after 17 minutes that the first shot of any real note arrived.
The shot was one worth waiting for, though, with Bernardo cutting inside onto his left foot before unleashing an unstoppable 25-yard drive into the top corner which left David de Gea no chance.
A goal of such quality came out of a blue to a certain extent, but from that point on it was one-way traffic as Man City dominated possession and began to cut through their hosts with ruthless efficiency.
The one player who struggled to get in on the act was Raheem Sterling, who missed the first of three big chances midway through the first half when blocks from Victor Lindelof and Phil Jones denied him after being found by Kyle Walker.
Man City added a deserved second shortly after the half-hour mark when Bernardo turned provider, sliding an incisive through-ball past the despairing dive of Lindelof to release Mahrez, who rounded a stranded De Gea before sliding the ball into the empty net.
United's best opening of the half arrived three minutes later when Mason Greenwood snatched at a loose ball and sliced his effort well wide from the edge of the box, and within one minute of that Man City were back up the other end to score a third.
This time it came at the end of the sort of counter-attack which United punished them with in the league meeting at the Etihad a month ago as Pereira put the ball into his own net.
A last-ditch Brandon Williams interception only took the ball into the path of Kevin De Bruyne, who left Jones for dead before seeing his shot saved by De Gea and deflect off the shins of Pereira and over the line.
De Gea was at least doing his part to keep the score down and he thwarted Bernardo moments later when the Portuguese latched on to Sterling's pass, initially being flagged offside only for replays to show that VAR would have allowed it to stand had the ball gone in.
Man City should have made it four to kill the tie off once and for all before the interval when Sterling was presented with two golden opportunities in the latter stages of the half, skewing his first effort wide after being found by a dangerous De Bruyne delivery and then completely missing his kick just one minute later.
It was the first time since 1997 that United had conceded three first-half goals at Old Trafford and, having been fortunate not to have shipped more, there was no surprise when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to make a change at the break, with Nemanja Matic replacing Jesse Lingard.
The hosts subsequently had their first shot on target two minutes after the restart, although it was a simple stop for Claudio Bravo to deny Williams, and Man City soon began to look the more dangerous of the two sides once again.
Mahrez hit the outside of the post with a low drive from an impossible angle before being kept out by a fine save from De Gea, who used his foot to stop a powerful low drive after Mahrez had beaten Williams.
It proved to be an important stop in the context of the tie as Rashford gave United a glimmer of hope just one minute later, racing on to Greenwood's pass after some sloppy play from City and sliding his finish past Bravo into the bottom corner.
City almost restored their three-goal advantage immediately as Sterling scurried behind the defence before picking out Mahrez, who could only fire his volley straight at a retreating De Gea under pressure from Williams.
The visitors seemed to have stepped off the gas in the second half, though, and that almost came back to haunt them when Bravo fumbled a swerving long-range Rashford strike two minutes from time.
However, Pep Guardiola's side safely saw the game out for their first ever victory at Old Trafford in a cup game, leaving them in pole position to face either Leicester City or Aston Villa in the final at Wembley on March 1.
MAN UTD (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Jones, Williams; Pereira, Fred; James (Gomes 64'), Lingard (Matic 46'), Rashford; Greenwood (Martial 81')
MAN CITY (4-3-3): Bravo; Walker, Fernandinho, Otamendi, Mendy; De Bruyne (Jesus 80'), Rodri, Gundogan; Mahrez (Foden 86'), Bernardo, Sterlingbody check tags ::