Guardiola's real test begins now
The Champions League stage is where Guardiola will be ultimately judged
The spotlight falls on Pep Guardiola when he leads his troops out at the Etihad Stadium to face Monaco tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
For Manchester City, everything has been building up to this moment.
Securing Guardiola's services was widely regarded as the top managerial coup in Premier League history.
In City, Guardiola sensed a club willing to embrace his ways and able to match his ambitions.
In the Spaniard, City identified the final piece of the puzzle.
Now, the real test is about to begin.
Tomorrow morning's match against Ligue 1 leaders Monaco, in the first leg of the Champions League's Round of 16, is when the real business begins and big boys come out to play.
Before Guardiola's arrival, the club have already conquered the Premier League twice under the Abu Dhabi ownership.
They are currently second in the league table, eight points behind Chelsea.
But, in the Champions League, they have always fallen short.
Roberto Mancini was found wanting when faced with the continent's best.
Manuel Pellegrini, a master motivator who coaxed underdogs Malaga and Villarreal into punching well above their weights, made some progress but never looked close to a breakthrough.
City believe Guardiola is the man who can lead them to European glory.
The 46-year-old has the experience and the know-how to help them negotiate past their previous pitfalls. And he has a record of doing it fast.
In his first season with Barcelona, he took them to the treble triumph of Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga.
He would eventually claim the Champions League crown twice in four years at the club.
Subsequently, in his three seasons with Bayern Munich, Guardiola led the Bavarian giants to three consecutive Champions League semi-finals.
The Spaniard has inherited an undoubtedly talented squad at City. He must now equip them with the cutting edge that the owners' ambitions warrant.
Far too often in Europe, their knees buckle at the first sign of trouble.
The Citizens may no longer be a novice in Europe's premier club competition, having qualified for five straight seasons, but they often still play with the naivety of one.
They still can't find the tenacity and belief to match the silk and subtlety.
Last term, their journey took them to the last four, where they met Real Madrid .
In the two biggest Champions League matches of the club's history, City folded, eventually losing 1-0 on aggregate.
The swagger with which they approach matches in the Premiership disappeared during those two legs.
The odd Premier League stumble may bruise the owners' egos, but Champions League setbacks cut like a knife.
In a frank and honest end-of-season interview, City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak couldn't hide his disappointment at the feeble effort, and said that his side didn't give their "100 per cent".
He said: "I think what makes it (the loss) difficult, and I'll speak from my personal feeling here on this, is I don't think we actually showed up for that game.
"I really feel bad in that I think in both games, both legs, we left too much that we know we could have done that we didn't do."
It was the first time that City have reached the Champions League last four.
But, the progress did not come with the oomph that City were probably looking for.
It is why City's management is probably looking to Paris St Germain as the barometer.
Last week, the Parisian club, burdened with similarly lofty ambitions by their Qatari owners, ripped apart Barcelona 4-0 in their Round-of-16, first-leg tie at the Parc des Princes to send ripples across the continent.
Guardiola's job is to do the same with City and start to eliminate the gap between reality and their European dream.
The elusive Champions League prize is all that matters to City, and this is the stage on which he will be judged.