Carlos Tevez scored twice as Manchester City overpowered Liverpool 3-0 at Eastlands here on Monday.
James Milner, in his City debut, set up his former Aston Villa team-mate Gareth Barry to side-foot in the first goal in the 13th minute.
And the Argentina striker got on the end of Micah Richards’s header seven minutes into the second half.
Liverpool — without Javier Mascherano amid reports the Argentina international was on his way to Barcelona — saw captain Steven Gerrard hit the post with a powerful shot.
And in the ensuing scramble City goalkeeper Joe Hart made a fine double save to deny both David Ngog and Fernando Torres.
Tevez made the game safe from the penalty spot after Adam Johnson was brought down by Martin Skrtel.
City manager Roberto Mancini said it was too soon to call his expensively-assembled team title contenders.
“I don’t know this,” the Italian said. “I think it’s important to improve, game after game, we need to gel. We need time to become a strong squad.”
Defeat left Liverpool with just one point from two games after their initial draw with Arsenal, but manager Roy Hodgson pleaded for a sense of perspective about the results.
“We are only two matches into the season,” he said. “We had Arsenal in the first game, which we had to play with 10 men [after Joe Cole’s sending-off] and then a strong Manchester City side.”
City’s win came as their billionaire owner Sheikh Mansour visited the ground for the first time since buying the club two years ago, and he was treated to a stunning performance from his team.
It would have been much worse for Liverpool had City, with Adam Johnson in sensational form, taken half the chances they created.
City fans hoping for a glimpse of £25 million (US$38.5 million) striker Mario Balotelli were left disappointed. He looked on from the sidelines as he recovered from a knee-cartilage injury that forced him to miss training on Sunday.
Johnson started the move that led to City’s opener with a delightful pass to Milner. He squared to an unmarked Barry to score from 9m, the England midfielder’s third Premier League goal for City.
Liverpool were subdued and clearly missed Mascherano’s influence in midfield as Tevez burst into the danger area before firing into the side netting.
They were no better after the break and two goals in the space of 16 minutes from Tevez sealed the worst night of Hodgson’s spell in charge so far.
Liverpool’s defense was again all at sea as Tevez scrambled the ball over the line from close range after a powerful header by Richards.
The visitors were clearly shell-shocked.
City’s battling qualities were highlighted in the 58th minute when, after Gerrard had been denied by the woodwork, Ngog had a shot saved by Hart, before Torres had a follow up effort charged down.
Liverpool’s wretched night was complete when Skrtel brought down man-of-the-match Johnson in the box and Tevez beat Pepe Reina from the spot.