Neil Humphreys: Pep sets the standards
Despite City's superiority, Guardiola's principles are not open to compromise
Let's start with the good news. History isn't on Manchester City's side. No English Premier League club have retained the title in the last decade.
That's it. That's the solitary straw to clutch as the Citizens open their title defence against Arsenal on Sunday, and we trudge towards the most one-sided race since Usain Bolt took on James Corden in a comedy skit.
One manager encapsulates City's worrying omnipotence, but his name is Jose Mourinho. He only whines when City are winning.
And Manchester United's professional Grinch has stayed under his wet blanket for weeks now, bitching about all and sundry as he plots an early exit from a battle he knows he cannot win.
The gap between first and second, City and United, was 19 points last season. Comparing squads, the gap might have grown even further.
Unlike Mourinho, Pep Guardiola isn't addicted to hubris, but hunger. He's not interested in one-title wonders, but lean and mean serial winners.
The Spaniard insists that hunger is the hardest quality to sustain across 38 games and the easiest to lose once footballers enjoy their open-top bus parade.
But he's already done it at two different clubs - Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Third time will certainly be the charm at City.
In the Community Shield, he screamed at his players and harangued officials, when City were comfortably leading against a half-paced Chelsea.
The match was a meaningless exhibition, but Guardiola celebrated the triumph in a fist-pumping manner that bordered on parody. He remains a firm believer in the unstoppable power of winning momentum.
More pertinently, he has made City better, faster and, incredibly, even younger.
Phil Foden caressed the ball at Wembley as if messing about with mates on council estate concrete. He turned 18 three months ago. He's already called Stockport's Andres Iniesta, an archetypal Guardiola footballer.
ADORES THE BALL
Foden was named the player of the tournament when England won the Under-17 World Cup last year and he's a rarity among his countrymen. He adores the ball.
He's possibly a more attack-minded successor to a Fernandinho just as Bernardo Silva looks ready to take the baton from David Silva and establish his midfield mastery. He's only 23.
Indeed, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, John Stones, Aymeric Laporte, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are all under 25. They are still seasons away from their prime.
The greatest threat to City's domestic supremacy is serious injury. No one else is catching these guys.
At the other end, Sergio Aguero stands in the box, waving his arm in the air and reminding the world that he's going nowhere. Two goals in the Community Shield took him past 200, another reminder of a side with no obvious weakness.
Guardiola has even indulged himself with a mercurial, occasionally erratic genius, signing Riyad Mahrez, just because he can.
When he's in the mood, Mahrez can bend a game to his will. When he's not, there's always David Silva.
Oh, there's also that guy who didn't featured in the Community Shield. He was the reserved redhead buried beneath a towel.
His biggest opponent at Wembley was sunburn.
Kevin de Bruyne, the jewel in Guardiola's crown, was the finest midfielder in European football last season.
City are blessed with the best creative midfielder, the best kid in the country, the best front six, the best wing-backs and the best manager in the EPL. They also boast the best bank account.
It's a worrying thought for everyone else. A second campaign effectively decided by Christmas can only have a debilitating effect on a league that claims to be the most competitive in world football.
But the world should watch City nonetheless. Whatever the gap, Guardiola won't allow his attacking principles to be compromised. Standards cannot drop. His history is built on hunger.
City will savour the satisfaction of retaining the title because they are lucky to have an eternally dissatisfied manager.