Wobbly centre-backs costing Man City: Richard Buxton
Makeshift pairing of Otamendi and Fernandinho were exposed by Wolves
Slow and steady will be the downfall of Manchester City's English Premier League title defence.
In Nicolas Otamendi and Fernandinho, the reigning champions have a centre-back pairing that could not be more mismatched if it tried.
One is hugely unsuited to the role, increasingly out of his depth and should have been moved on a long time ago.
The other is Fernandinho.
That makeshift spine blends the worst possible traits of Pep Guardiola's side and nearly acted to its direct detriment during last night's 2-0 defeat by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Both players found themselves regularly exposed by the visitors en route to an improbable victory.
Only mitigating factors have seen Fernandinho and Otamendi given extended first-team runs at a time when they represent an antithesis to an upwardly mobile City team that still harbour designs of lifting a third successive EPL crown.
Had injury not laid low John Stones and Aymeric Laporte in swift succession, Wolves' forward line would have not enjoyed the freedom of the Etihad Stadium pitch for large parts of this encounter, with Raul Jimenez and Patrick Cutrone launching wave upon wave of attacks.
Fernandinho was once the player that City could not live without.
His absence at the midway point of last season coincided with them suffering back-to-back defeats.
But all good things come to an end, as proven by Vincent Kompany's departure this summer.
What Guardiola would give for a player of the Belgian's calibre to step into the breach now.
His trust in Otamendi, meanwhile, has yet to be rewarded, and it was the Argentine's failure to stop Jimenez in his tracks which allowed Adama Traore to stun the Etihad and open the scoring for the visitors 10 minutes from time.
Wolves prepared for their latest visit to east Manchester by using technology pioneered by Nasa. But they did not need space-age methods to earn a hard-fought victory.
Stout defending and breakneck counter-attacks did enough to put their hosts on the back foot.
Guardiola sensed City's dwindling momentum and withdrew Kyle Walker at the interval in a bid to breath new life into his flying fullbacks.
Oleksandr Zinchenko took the ex-England international's place, allowing Joao Cancelo to revert to his preferred role on the right. But to little avail.
Wolves' goals stemmed from near-identical moves late in the second half - both against the run of play, teed up by Jimenez and rounded off by Traore.
Luck promises to be a decisive factor in the battle for the EPL's top spot.
Liverpool currently have it. City don't.
Come what may, Juergen Klopp's side continue to find ways to successfully see out games and extend what has now grown to an eight-point advantage.
The defending champions, meanwhile, are left lamenting their lack of fortune following a glut of chances unfulfilled.
Before Adama's double, David Silva rattled the crossbar from a well-struck free-kick while his namesake Bernardo saw a goal-bound effort denied by Sergio Aguero.
Try as they might, City simply could not score.
Anfield's dream of trumpeting the champions of England for a first time since 1990 were crushed last season as Guardiola inspired his side to success from a seven-point adversity.
Much as the Catalan thrives on the charge of the hunt, he may have met his match this time.