Key to the long term success of Claude Puel’s rotation policy will be getting his players to buy into it. On the evidence of the last week that is happening.
Players are never any different, they love winning, and when they are winning they are prepared to accept most things a manager throws at them.
If results go south that is when the whispering and the rumblings of discontent start to fire up.
One thing that would most likely irk players in that situation is being left out of the side, even if it is for their own good in a busy run of fixtures.
That situation is only magnified for a new manager, who, until they have success, still has to prove their authority and worth.
Say what you want about Puel, but you cannot accuse of him of any weakness when it comes to knowing his own mind and sticking to his plans.
He said from the start he play a certain style, and formation, and would rotate, and come what may it seems he will stick to that.
Of course, when rotation delivers results it seems like a stroke of genius, but you are always treading a fine line of looking like a fool if it goes wrong.
Thus far though, Puel has judged it about right, and the results back that up.
If maybe there was a feeling that the six changes for Inter Milan was a bit too much, it was an undeserved defeat in the San Siro.
That was followed up, however, by a superb point at the Etihad.
Aside from the obvious, a major positive for squad rotation is that it keeps everybody involved.
If you don’t do that and are only playing in general once a week, you inevitably end up leaning on the same group of players, while others feel isolated and frozen out.
That in itself can breed discontent, but by using so many players Puel has ensured everybody has a stake in the success of the team.
After a tiring trip to Milan on the Thursday night evidence of just how strong that will is was shown at City, where to a man Saints battled and fought for their point.
The first half quickly settled into a familiar pattern, but it was one that suited Saints.
They spent long periods camped deep inside their own half, looking compact and organised and challenging City to break them down.
Pep Guardiola’s team found it difficult to do so with little space to play into, no matter how much of the ball they had.
Their passing game at the back but high press up front meant Saints were rarely allowed much opportunity to impose their own tactics, but at the Etihad against such a wealth of attacking talent mere survival is as good a start as any.
As Saints came to terms with their role and stopped giving the ball away cheaply, they actually grew as an attacking force, Dusan Tadic having a cross deflected and cut out by Claudio Bravo before Jordy Clasie skied an effort from the edge of the box.
City should have done much better on 24 minutes as Aleksandar Kolarov’s forward ball picked out Kevin De Bruyne.
Virgil van Dijk was the only player in close quarters and, rather than try and go alone himself, De Bruyne inexplicably attempted to square to Sergio Aguero, only succeeding in hitting the ball against the legs of the Saints centre half.
Just three minutes later Saints’ patience paid off as they took the lead.
It came courtesy of a monumental error from John Stones, whose backward pass was hopelessly misdirected and picked out Nathan Redmond.
With Bravo stuck in no man’s land, Redmond had the relatively simple job of skipping past the City keeper and finishing.
Stones thought he had atoned for the mistake five minutes later as he finished De Bruyne’s right wing free kick at the far post, but the flag was raised for offside, even though replays suggested it was the wrong decision.
City made a change at the break, breaking on Kelechi Iheanacho and switching Raheem Sterling out to the right to test Sam McQueen, while Leroy Sane tried his luck against Cuco Martina.
It made City more threatening from the wide areas, Sterling whipping in a cross that just evaded everybody before Sane had a hand in the equaliser on 55 minutes.
He brought down Fernandinho’s sweeping diagonal pass on his chest and, though pulled a little out wide, had the space to fire in a near post cross.
Iheanacho darted in with a diagonal run in front of Van Dijk and produced a clinical first time finish.
City were motivated to push for a winner, but Saints were standing firm.
Fraser Forster had to make a pair of saves in the space of three minutes, firstly diving to his left to prevent Ilkay Gundogan, and then beating away a near post drive from David Silva.
However, Saints still looked a threat on the break, and Charlie Austin had his first real sight of goal on 75 minutes as Sofiane Boufal squared the ball to him just inside the area, but the effort was central and Bravo pushed it away.
The closing stages of the game were like a siege, as City tried everything they could to get a winner, while Saints were at times camped with much of the team in their own penalty area.
It was in some ways a microcosm of the game, as it left City without any space to try and play their intricate passing game, and they were left shut out, subdued at just a point while Saints were understandably pleased and Puel can again feel that his way is vindicated.