If an alien spacecraft landed this evening, its inhabitants on a mission to learn all there was to know about football - rather than cause absolute destruction - would they regard Manchester City as a top club?
City have just spent plenty of money on some of the finest talent in their league, and they still have plenty to spend. They have a big ground, and a fan base that regularly fills it. They even have a rather snazzy, futuristic kit, just like all the other big teams. As long as there are no questions asked about recent history, you could almost get away with it.
On second thoughts, there's no real point in asking such an ill-conceived hypothetical question. Not when, in footballing terms, swooping in from Abu Dhabi is roughly on a par with arriving from outer space.
In recent weeks, City have really stepped up their impersonation of a big club. First, there was the cheeky 'Welcome to Manchester' banner unveiled down town with new signing Carlos Tevez on it, bearing that lovably gormless grin of his.
If you're not affiliated with the red half of Mancunia, you couldn't help but raise a smile. The gesture was inspired by a similar banner put up by Chelsea several years ago, but was a more endearing version.
Then there is their interminable pursuit of Joleon Lescott, and their resolute determination to beat their victims into opposition with increasingly heavy suitcases full of cash that is almost a direct tribute to their more illustrious cross-town neighbours. Unfortunately this time, they picked a fight with the wrong guy.
Everton boss David Moyes has kicked the door firmly shut just as City had got their pesky fingers through, resulting in a few bruised digits and one sulking defender.
The Scotsman has gone on the attack, turning down Lescott's transfer request and then calling Mark Hughes's bluff after the City boss alluded to transfer talks that were going on over Moyes's head.
Moyes growled: "Lescott has had his head twisted in all of this. I hear City think they are talking to people who make the decisions here, well that's me.
"I make the decisions, they have not talked to me and the player has been consistently told he is not for sale." Oof!
It's such a shame City have a friendly against Barcelona booked in for next Wednesday - that was when they were due to welcome Everton to Eastlands. Oh, what might have been.
The rebuttals from Kaka and John Terry are one thing, but if Everton can close ranks and hang on to Lescott for the rest of the summer, then City's true power will become clear.
Of course, they will have another go in January and they will sign others, too. If things go right for them, then they could looking back on all of this come spring and laughing at all the heathens who lacked faith. Good luck to them. But for the time being it looks like their financial muscle is not matched by their true reach.
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CHEEKY JAB IN THE RIBS OF THE DAY: "We can always talk about the top four, but Manchester City are doing a very good job and have bought some excellent players. I can understand why Mr Ferguson at Manchester United is a little bit worried." Rafa Benitez has a final pre-season pop.
FOREIGN VIEW: David Beckham is confident of returning to Milan for a second loan spell in January as the England midfielder seeks to improve his chances of playing at next year's World Cup. Isn't this less than 48 hours after stating that he was "only focused on LA Galaxy for the next few months"?
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