LONDON • The passion and drama of Jose Mourinho's first meeting in English football with Pep Guardiola continues to feel fresh.
The Manchester United manager tasted defeat by Guardiola's City at Old Trafford on Sept 10 and the wounds remain raw.
There is little doubt that the 2-1 Premier League reverse served to puncture the optimism that had swelled at United in the wake of Mourinho's arrival. Now, the game is afoot once more.
The League Cup fourth round will be headlined by United's tie against City at Old Trafford (likely to be on Oct 26), after both clubs smoothed their passage into it with away victories.
On Wednesday, City got the job done at Swansea City 2-1 and Mourinho's team were too strong for third-tier Northampton Town, winning 3-1 albeit after a performance that contained its share of imperfections.
Mourinho was prickly afterwards, which was not entirely surprising, given how United had wobbled towards the end of the first half and the manner in which they had laboured for penetration until the introduction of Marcus Rashford and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the 54th minute.
It was all a bit Louis van Gaal. But goals from Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera and Rashford eased United to victory at Sixfields, with Mourinho emboldened by the result to lash out at "football Einsteins" for trying to undermine his and the club's achievements in the wake of their recent run of three successive losses.
The Portuguese manager praised his team for delivering a "positive performance" before turning on critics following the scrutiny that has come their way following defeats by City, Feyenoord and Watford last week.
"I know that some football Einsteins - football is full of Einsteins - tried to delete 16 years of my career," Mourinho told MUTV. "They tried to delete an unbelievable history of Man United and to focus on a bad week. But that's the new football - it's full of Einsteins.
"We deserved to win, clearly. The team was in control from the beginning and the substitutions were just a contribution. Difficult match but overall a positive performance."
Mourinho will need another exceptional performance from his United players in their next League Cup outing as the Premier League pace-setters City made it nine wins from nine games under Guardiola with victory at Swansea.
City enjoyed the best of the first half, but it took until four minutes into the second half for Gael Clichy to put them ahead with a deflected shot.
Aleix Garcia made the most of a rare start by netting the second from Jesus Navas' cut-back in the 67th minute before Gylfi Sigurdsson stabbed in a stoppage-time consolation goal for Swansea.
Guardiola gave a first start of the season to captain Vincent Kompany, who underwent thigh surgery in May, but the Belgium centre-back had to go off late on after appearing to injure himself.
"Hopefully it will not be a big problem. We will have to wait," said Guardiola. " The doctors are speaking with him and seeing what's up."
While Kompany's injury meant that the night ended on a slightly sour note for Guardiola, the problems are more pressing for Francesco Guidolin.
The Swansea manager is under mounting pressure to hold onto his job after his side suffered a third defeat in just four matches, with Ryan Giggs emerging as a potential successor.
A heavy defeat against the same opponents tomorrow could see Guidolin on his way out.
The Italian, though, vowed to fight on, despite the mounting pressure. "It has not affected me, this is my job. With my experience I know football is like this," he said. "I have to work with my players and my staff to pick up better results."
The Manchester derby is not the only heavyweight tie in the fourth round of the League Cup, with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur also set to do battle for a place in the quarter-finals.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE