Neil Humphreys: De Bruyne will make sure Aguero's not missed by City
Led by de Bruyne, City's depth and diversity can cover Argentinian's absence
Beyond the plush environs of the Etihad, there will be little sympathy for Manchester City.
Feeling sorry for the billionaires in blue because they've lost a couple of players is like feeling sorry for Donald Trump because he's lost a couple of bucks down the White House sofa.
But fate has certainly conspired against manager Pep Guardiola before his trip to Chelsea tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
He spent much of last season telling anyone who would listen that Sergio Aguero was no longer an automatic selection. His love for the new kid on the block, Gabriel Jesus, knew no bounds.
Then Jesus got injured and Aguero reminded his manager of his reliability in front of goal.
To muddy the waters further, the Argentine master and his potential successor developed an attacking relationship this season that Guardiola didn't anticipate.
So fate has intervened, seemingly punishing the City manager for his indecision over his most prized striking asset.
Aguero's injuries are not entirely clear, following a road accident in Amsterdam, Holland, on Thursday when he was the passenger in a taxi that crashed into a street pole.
The 29-year-old was on his way to the airport after attending a concert by Colombian singer Maluma.
Fortunately, the injuries are not life-threatening or career-ending for the player, but they are certainly embarrassing for the manager.
Just two days after a Champions League game, Aguero should never have been allowed to leave the country for a pop concert ahead of City's biggest domestic game of the season to date.
Aguero's accident almost feels like a cruel punishment, reminding Guardiola that he seemed to take the Argentinian's qualities for granted on too many occasions.
But any sympathy for the coach or the club comes with that whopping great caveat. City have more resources than some developing nations.
When Benjamin Mendy succumbed to that wretched knee injury against Crystal Palace, Danilo filled in and City strolled to a 5-0 victory. In the Champions League, Fabian Delph excelled as a stand-in left back.
Being the world's wealthiest football club has its advantages. City's second choices are superior to most first choices at other clubs. Their depth and diversity are extraordinary.
Aguero's six EPL goals and three assists would make him irreplaceable elsewhere. At City, he's first among near equals.
In the goal-scoring charts, Raheem Sterling sits behind Aguero on five, followed by Jesus on four. When it comes to EPL assists, David Silva leads the way with six. But Kevin de Bruyne also makes the top 10 with three assists.
Indeed, the Belgian can guarantee City's safe passage at Stamford Bridge. He's finally becoming the footballer that Guardiola envisioned.
In the Champions League in midweek, de Bruyne was deployed as a holding midfielder with a licence to roam. He sits and goes whenever he wants.
He's a deep thinker in a deep-lying position, the kind of cerebral midfielder that Guardiola covets. De Bruyne was born in Belgium, but could have been made in Barcelona.
His role in between Fernandinho and David Silva will be crucial, giving the midfielder a chance to remind Chelsea of their myopic foolishness in selling him.
De Bruyne's growing freedom and responsibility moves City closer towards the Barcelona ideal of complete independence and fluidity between lines and players.
At its best, the formation is hard to pin down and track, like trying to catch water between the fingers.
City's success in west London hinges not on Aguero's availability, but on de Bruyne's ability to provide an elusive link between teammates while restricting N'Golo Kante's absurd lung capacity.
If anything, City's greater loss will not be Aguero, but Mendy.
Chelsea's unexpected victory at Atletico Madrid was due in large part to Antonio Conte's canny liberation of the extraordinary Eden Hazard.
Like de Bruyne, the fellow Belgian had no fixed position. He was pushed further forward and ran in horseshoe shapes between the flanks, tearing towards either byeline and then dropping back into the No. 10 slot.
Mendy's absence affords Hazard the opportunity to poke and probe City's weakened left side with the frenzied tenacity of a mad surgeon.
Of course, City's perceived weaknesses are relative. Their problems look a lot like solutions at other clubs.
Danilo or Delph will fill in for Mendy. Sterling, Jesus or Leroy Sane can be flipped around to accommodate Aguero's absence.
Indeed, Aguero, Jesus and Sterling already account for 15 of City's 21 EPL goals after six games, a remarkable statistic that underlines the club's incomparable firepower.
Guardiola shouldn't be found outside Stamford Bridge with a begging bowl, pleading for sympathy for his missing mavericks. He doesn't need it.
City won't tug at the heartstrings as long as de Bruyne is pulling the strings in midfield.