Manchester City benefited from two huge errors by a linesman on their way to a 5-0 drubbing of Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium, with Argentine attackers Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez scoring two goals apiece after David Silva's opener.
Villa's tactics worked well to an extent, but they never truly had the quality or the belief to depart Manchester with more than this loss.
England goalkeeper Joe Hart made two notable saves in the first half. He kept out an effort from Vincent Kompany that might had ended up as an own goal when his captain tried to clear the danger.
He also threw himself across goal to claw away a header from Christian Benteke that could easily have wound up in the rigging for a shock Villa opener on 17 minutes.
Most of the action came at the other end of the park. City dominated possession for large swathes of the opening hour with Brad Guzan saving from Gael Clichy and the superb Silva either side of the Spaniard's opening goal.
Paul Lambert's side's stern first-half resistance was broken with that goal on 43 minutes, Silva bundling the ball into the net after an almighty scramble in the visiting area.
Tevez walloped a shot narrowly wide on 51 minutes as the Premier League champions looked the classier side. However they were helped on their way by the questionable actions of an assistant referee, who decided to flag for two penalties that replays suggested were both the wrong calls.
Andreas Weimann was deemed to have handled the ball from a Silva corner that enabled Aguero to slip home a penalty on 54 minutes before Tevez netted a penalty of his own nine minutes later with Barry Bannan penalised for handling the ball as he slid along the ground.
Both decisions were poor, and changed the pattern of the match with Villa looking utterly dazed for the closing 25 minutes of the contest. Weimann was left complaining bitterly to the match officials at the full-time whistle.
Aguero drove a deflected shot beyond Guzan for a fourth goal on 67 minutes. Never one to be outdone, Tevez popped up to add his second of the day from Samir Nasri's cutback 16 minutes from time.
Substitute Scott Sinclair could have added a sixth goal three minutes later, but Guzan did superbly well to nudge the ball over the bar with Villa a spent force and seemingly pleading for full-time.
City return to the top of the table by a point after Manchester United lost 1-0 at Norwich later in the evening.
It was City’s biggest Premier League win at home since a 5-0 win against Sunderland in April 2011.
Manchester City are now unbeaten in their last 36 Premier League home games, a run that started with a 4-0 win over Aston Villa in December 2010.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Maicon (Manchester City): Was between the Brazilian and David Silva, but Maicon just gets the nod due to his energy throughout the contest. A constant handful for Villa on a day the visitors will quickly wish to forget.
MANCHESTER CITY: Hart 7, Maicon 8, Kompany 7, Nastasic 7, Clichy 6, Yaya Toure 7, Barry 6, Silva 8, Nasri 7, Tevez 7, Aguero 7. Subs: Kolarov 6, Sinclair 6, Dzeko 6
ASTON VILLA: Guzan 7, Lowton 5, Vlaar 5 Clark 5, Stevens 6, Westwood 5, Bannan 5, Ireland 5, Weimann 5, Agbonlahor 5, Benteke 5. Subs: Albrighton 6, Holman 6, Bowery 6