Probably the best way to explain the mood around Manchester City at the moment is that it felt as if they were playing in front of supporters. The away bench — rows and rows of substitutes and staff — resembled an away end.
City were loud at Crystal Palace. The entourage, made up of Pep Guardiola's best players sitting this out ahead of Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, did not look like a football team.
More a group of mates down in London for the day who would not have appeared out of place spending the afternoon at Croydon's outdoor street food and drink haven, Boxpark. Here lived a free, carnival spirit.
Manchester City beat Crystal Palace 2-0 on Saturday to all but secure the Premier League titleInsurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
Departing Argentine striker Sergio Aguero (second right) scored a superb second-half goal
The City players and staff's encouragement from the sidelines prove they are a united squad
Citizens and Aguero's remarkable records
Whether it was Guardiola mimicking tipping his cap to the Frenchman Benjamin Mendy and shouting 'chapeau, chapeau' after his assist for Sergio Aguero. Or Bernardo Silva impishly patrolling the touchline, mask on and not really warming up, grinning and laughing.
Or one player squealing as Raheem Sterling thundered Palace's near post from an impossible angle. Or the subs being told off by the fourth official for messing about with stray footballs. This is all very fun for them.
A third Premier League title in four seasons is now effectively rubber-stamped and the togetherness felt like the takeaway from a game City turned up to knowing they would win. As Aguero's goal crashed in, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Silva and Phil Foden's celebrations from the stands almost saw the trio collapse over a rail.
Fans would label it 'limbs', the act of unbridled emotion, arms and legs everywhere. 'Everybody knows we are living something special,' Guardiola said. 'Three times in four years, in this country, is something more than remarkable.Insurance Loans Mortgage Attorney Credit Lawyer
'Eight players didn't play in Paris last week and they were sad. Happy for the team, but they were sad for not playing. The best way to answer me — to prove me wrong and make me feel guilty — is on the grass.
'These players talk on the grass. That is why we are on 80 points, in the semi-finals of the Champions League, have won four Carabao Cups in a row. The incredible records and numbers. Why? Because they speak on the grass.'
Guardiola's rotation policy is often discussed and the manager