Man City were treated cruelly in the past two Champions League group stage draws, but that doesn’t mean that their pot-three placement for the latest edition is an instant death sentence.
While they could be combined with Bayern Munich, PSG and Napoli, it is just as likely that they end up facing Benfica, Schalke and Austria Vienna.
Further comfort is provided by the fact that the 13/1 hopefuls’ new coach Manuel Pellegrini has guided his three prior European employers into the latter stages of the competition.
The Chilean tactician oversaw Villarreal’s unexpected sashay into the semi-finals in 2005/06, steered Real Madrid into the round-of-16 in 2009/10 then carried cash-strapped Malaga into last season’s quarter-finals.
His latter feat was achieved despite adorning the straitjacket of a pot-four seeding that, according to the doomsday theorists already forecasting a hat-trick of failures for Man City, equates to instant elimination.
Instead, they were dealt transitory AC Milan, divided Zenit and mediocre Anderlecht, won their first three games and could even afford to ease up in the return fixtures and saunter to top spot.
Sure, one of the top seeds has taken the trophy in five of the past six seasons.
That though is more a reflection of that octet’s class – their billing a result of relentless continental progress in the five prior campaigns – than favourable drawing.
Bayern Munich, 5/2 favourites to retain, didn’t land in the toughest group last term, but were still required to navigate a route past Arsenal, Juventus, Barcelona and Dortmund to clasp the big-eared cup.
By contrast, 16/1 shots Dortmund, whose pot-three station has caused their chances of another great run to be questioned, were among the bottom eight in 2012/13 yet flourished.
Had they not been forced to face and defeat Real Madrid and Man City before Christmas, they might never have experienced the burst of confidence that helped them blast past Shakhtar, Malaga and Real over two legs.
Pot four-marooned Napoli shouldn’t therefore be discounted at 33/1, especially as they got through from an identical position two years ago.