The sobering first half Champions League capitulation, and subsequent loss, to Monaco in midweek may have reduced Manchester City’s options for silverware this season but that fact clearly has not dented the confidence of manager Pep Guardiola as he prepared for Sunday's meeting with Liverpool.
At various times, his opposite number across Manchester Jose Mourinho has revelled in the nickname “the Special One” and “the Happy One,” but, for his part, on Friday Guardiola launched an impassioned defence of his track record that invited a new moniker for himself.
Even if this, his first season in English football, ends without a trophy, Guardiola believes his incredible productivity throughout his managerial career - three major trophies in his debut season at Barcelona, four in his first campaign with Bayern Munich, alone - render him worthy of being considered the Exceptional One.
“I think exceptional other managers in the world sometimes don’t win titles in a season,” said Guardiola. “That is the normal situation all around the world. The exception is my career. I’m sorry but that is exceptional.
“So of course we want to win titles. Everyone wants to win titles. We fight for that, we play for that. When that happens we improve and next season we come back and try to win the titles.
“The boss, the chairman, the sporting director, they are going to decide what’s the best for the club. It depends, of course, my job and it depends on winning titles or not and if we’re not winning titles they judge me about the results. If it’s not good they are going to say ‘bye-bye.’
“I didn’t come here just to have fun and play good, I want to win. I’d be happier to be involved in the draw for Champions League. That is normal. But it can happen for any manager in the world and that sometimes you don’t win.
“I will try to learn from that, speak to the people that are close to me, and make the team better next season. That’s all.
“Now we have to fight to win games to qualify for the Champions League as much as possible and for the semi-finals of the FA Cup.”
The heady days of summer, when Guardiola’s arrival was greeted with unbridled enthusiasm by supporters and the season opened with 10 consecutive victories, seems a distant memory.
Certainly, in comparison with his debut campaigns in Spain and Germany, success in the FA Cup, should they negotiate that semi with Arsenal, would represent a modest return for Guardiola although the manager was at pains to point out he never guaranteed a quick return.
“People believe Pep is sitting here so now they are going to win the title. Easy. You are wrong,” he said.
“I never said we are going to win one title, I never said I was going to win the treble, I never said I was going to win the double. I never said that.
“I never said that in my first day at Barcelona, sitting there. I promised a lot of work. Few guys can beat me at that. I work. I am so proud of that. But I never promise titles, never in my life.
“Even when I went to Bayern Munich and they won the treble with Jupp Heynckes. Never. Just work. And to be assured they are going to play the way I want. The only I power I have is this.”