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It was one of those nights that started with Raheem Sterling probably wishing he was among the substitutes.
One of those nights when it looked like keeping warm on the sidelines alongside the likes of Phil Foden, Riyad Mahrez, Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho and Kyle Walker felt like it meant something.
But instead, Sterling was sent out with the stiffs as Manchester City looked to get the final points needed to become Premier League champions again.
And the fact Sterling was made captain couldn't sugarcoat the notion that most of those facing Chelsea at the Etihad would not be troubling them again in the Champions League final on May 29.
Wherever the final now takes place, it's safe to assume Nathan Ake, Gabriel Jesus, Sergio Aguero, Ferran Torres, Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and even Rodrigo will not be lining up against Thomas Tuchel's men.
Seven of the replacements here will though, while Kevin De Bruyne and John Stones were not even included in the matchday squad.
In this game of poker between Pep Guardiola and his German rival, the City boss wasn't just keeping his cards close to his chest, he had hidden them underneath his light grey hoodie and had no intention of laying them on the table.
Just to emphasise the point, Jesus started in midfield alongside Sterling and there was even a game for Ake, who started just his eighth league match since joining from Bournemouth last summer in a £41m deal.
If Tuchel had been hoping to learn something then he thought wrong.
It was a dress rehearsal for the big one in name only – and more of an audition for Sterling as he continues to find himself struggling to be involved in the party City are holding in the blue half of Manchester.
He was once one of the first names on the team sheet, but in recent weeks been nothing more significant than an afterthought.
He failed to start either of the Champions League quarter final games with Borussia Dortmund or the semi finals against Paris Saint Germain.
City have reached club football's showpiece game without him, not because of him. Sterling has been forced to stand aside because there is a new sherif is in town – in the shape of Phil Foden.
Foden's rise has coincided with Sterling demise – and it could have huge implications this summer when the team-mates look to help England win the Euros.
Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate remains a huge fan of Sterling, but knows his current form does not justify him starting at international level ahead of the bloke whose taken his place at club level.
Since Valentine's Day Sterling had scored as many goals for England as he has for City (one) and it's fair to say he hasn't been setting the pulses racing.
Things can change between now and June 13 when England open their campaign against Croatia, but Sterling needs to start taking the chances he is given.
Imposing himself on a game like this was a good place to start.
And having spent most of the first half flattering to deceive when a host of quicksilver runs came to nothing, along came that piece of good fortune for Sterling just when he needed his luck to change.
When Jesus broke free down the right and picked out Aguero, the Argentine's first touch was so bad it turned into an accidental assist for Sterling who, fast approaching on his shoulder, buried the chance past Edouard Mendy.
It could have been the goal that confirmed City as champions, but Hakim Ziyech's equaliser and a last-gasp winner from Marcos Alonso ruined the dream scenario.
But Sterling's first goal in 13 games could still do wonders for his fragile confidence.
If it does and helps Sterling get back to his best, then one of the most frustrating campaigns of his career could still turn out to be the greatest one of them all.
- Raheem Sterling
- Chelsea FC
- Manchester City FC
- Champions League
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