LONDON • These are early days but there is something ominous about the style in which Manchester City have swept to victory in their first three matches.
They were made to work hard for their 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday.
However, their superior quality shone through in the second half as they surged to the top of football's English Premier League.
On this evidence, they will take some stopping over the nine months ahead.
They have scored eight goals without reply, and Aleksandar Kolarov and Samir Nasri became their sixth and seventh different scorers since the campaign began.
From back to front, they look a far more balanced, aggressive and determined team than at any stage last season.
This was their ninth consecutive league win, dating back to April and equalling a club record that has stood since 1912.
But, in many ways, this season feels like a new start for Manuel Pellegrini and his men, eager to atone for last term's disappointment.
With Raheem Sterling slotting in well, Nicolas Otamendi arriving and Kevin de Bruyne likely to follow, a formidable-looking squad have the capacity to improve.
Everton competed well and certainly gave City a tougher game than either West Bromwich Albion or Chelsea managed.
But they ultimately found themselves out-manoeuvred.
Kolarov opened the scoring on the hour, charging forward from left-back to catch Tim Howard by surprise from Sterling's pass.
Nasri came off the bench to settle the issue after a wonderful exchange of passes with Yaya Toure in the final minutes.
The victory seemed like another powerful statement from City but Pellegrini preferred not to see it in those terms.
"We are just thinking about winning the next game. Before, the next game was Everton. Now, the next game is Watford and we must think about that, " he said.
Pellegrini suggested that, in the past three seasons, City were "always the team that played the best football". They certainly have a creative dimension that Chelsea, last season's champions, rarely match.
But, too often with City - even in their two title-winning campaigns, there has been a loss of individual and collective focus.
Encouragingly for Pellegrini, that focus appears to have been renewed and reinforced, as illustrated on Sunday by another strong display from players all around.
The manager was full of praise for his team, saying: "They work and work every day; especially when everyone is saying you are playing so well, it is very easy to train a little comfortably. But I see every day they are working.
"In the (same) way, they don't believe what you did last game will be useful to win the next game. We are confident we must have an important squad and not just a team."
Everton manager Roberto Martinez, whose side lost for the first time this season, conceded that City are "the best team in the league at the moment".
"Today, they were at their very best. They need only half a chance to hurt you," he said.
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE