One of the main presumptions people make about Roberto Mancini is that he doesn't have the nous and experience to win tough Premier League games, particularly on the road. I don't know how valid a criticism it is - I think it's largely based on lazy stereotyping of foreign football cultures - but that doesn't necessarily make it wholly invalid. It's quite possible that the pace and physicality of a match like this will discomfit Mancini, but then again it might not.
I think the point to make - and this is something I feel very keenly - is that this is a learning experience for all of us. Nobody really knows what to expect from Mancini. Will he favour the big name players, or freeze them out? Will he get men behind the ball, or encourage a more attacking approach? Will he maintain the Hughes and Bowen levels of intense physical training or not? On all of these questions there is evidence - largely from testimonies from his management of Sampdoria, Lazio and Inter, but also from his public pronouncements as manager - supporting both sides. The more we see of his Manchester City, particularly once he has brought in his own players and imposed his own style, the more we will know. But remember that it took Mark Hughes the whole of 2008/09 to gain full ownership of City, and even then I don't think he was too happy with the results. These things take time.
So I'm not sure I can confidently make a prediction on this one. I'd probably just take a point, as long as we play well. I imagine that the policy from Saturday of not throwing six or seven players forward at every opportunity will be continued, which will mean a slower and tighter game but one where we should have a bit more control. In terms of selection I'm sure Craig Bellamy will come in for Robinho, and that's it. Shaun Wright-Phillips for Martin Petrov is an outside possibility.
These are the very first steps of a new era, and even if the board want instant results, there's no point in pretending that we can see the clearest image of what Roberto Mancini's Manchester City will look like this early. Three points would still be just as welcome though.