Let's be Frank, it was always going to happen.
Frank Lampard came on as a 78th minute substitute to deny his former club their fifth win in five on Sunday afternoon with a bittersweet strike five minutes from time. Chelsea's all-time top scorer registered his first goal in the blue of Manchester City, but his muted celebrations won the applause of the entire stadium.
The league champions, intent on polishing a week in which they had suffered discouraging results against both Arsenal and Bayern Munich, dominated the opening stages of the first half, advertising the flavoursome attacking football that conquered the Premier League last term. Edin Džeko, James Milner, Aleksandar Kolarov, Pablo Zabaleta and new signing Eliaquim Mangala were drafted into the starting eleven after City's torturous last-minute loss to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night, and the energy in their rested limbs brought a vitality to their play.
José Mourinho's men sauntered into the Etihad Stadium boasting a 100% record from their first four games, but seven-goal Diego Costa had yet to acquaint himself with the muscle of Vincent Kompany. The Belgian afforded the £32m forward nothing more than a sniff of the ball in the first half, and alongside new-boy Eliaquim Mangala, City were able to tame Chelsea's predatory strike-force. The battle between Kompany and Costa epitomised the physicality of the game.
(Vincent Kompany tamed Diego Costa with his incredible strength on Sunday afternoon)
After 45 minutes of dominance, the home side approached the break having enjoyed 60% of the possession, but the amount of clear cut chances the sky blues had created gave Jose's table-toppers little to concern themselves with. Chelsea approached last season's equivalent fixture with the same defensive philosophy, but their speed on the break gave them a deserved 1-0 victory. After 65 minutes, Manchester City looked to be heading for defeat once again.
Just minutes after Sergio Agüero and Edin Džeko had been denied by the rigidity of Chelsea's back line, Pablo Zabaleta was given a second yellow card for tussling with Diego Costa. The Spaniard had endured a frustrating afternoon against the physicality of City's new centre-defensive partnership, but his aggression gives an edge to a side that could never rely on their strikers last season. Zabaleta wandered down the tunnel to the tune of a resounding Etihad applause - a fitting tribute to the Argentine's consistent effort.
(Pablo Zabaleta is shown his second yellow card of the afternoon)
But the full-back's dismissal left the blues worryingly open at the back, and just six minutes later, a carnivorous Chelsea pounced. Eden Hazard's teasing cross was met by the boot of substitute André Schürrle who tapped in to give Mourinho's side an undeserved lead.
But City, infused with the admirable energy, tenacity and enthusiasm of James Milner, continued to press. The Englishman has yet to commit his future to the club after demanding more playing time, but the midfielder's performance is likely to etch him even deeper into Manuel Pellegrini's plans this term. With just five minutes to go, Milner presented Chelsea legend Frank Lampard with the opportunity to silence his former suitors with a precise finish past Thibaut Courtois - and the 36-year-old reluctantly accepted.
(Frank Lampard apologises to his former teammates after equalising in the 85th minute)
Lampard, completely mute, reacted to the equaliser like a true Chelsea fan - but his reticence was unmatched by the euphoria of the Etihad Stadium.
Arsène Wenger questioned Manuel Pellegrini's decision to sign the New York City FC midfielder last month; he got his answer today.
Shots on target: Manchester City 4 - 2 Chelsea
Shots off target: Manchester City 8 - 2 Chelsea
Blocked shots: Manchester City 4 - 2 Chelsea
Corners: Manchester 14 - 2 Chelsea
Fouls: Manchester City 16 - 12 Chelsea
Pass Completion: Manchester City 90% - 84% Chelsea
Tackle Success: Manchester City 48% - 54% Chelsea
Possession: Manchester City 56% - 44% Chelsea