Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City's victory over Tottenham in pre-season was the trigger for his team's dominance in the first half of the season.
City responded to a 2-0 loss to Manchester United in the International Champions Cup by beating Real Madrid 4-1 and Tottenham 3-0.
They carried that form into competitive action and have proved unstoppable under the former Barcelona coach, thrashing Spurs 4-1 on Saturday to lead the Premier League table by 11 points.
And Guardiola, speaking after his team's latest victory at the Etihad Stadium, suggested the importance of overcoming Mauricio Pochettino's side in Nashville in July should not be underestimated.
"Tottenham last season, compared to Chelsea, played the best football in the Premier League," he said.
"Today [Saturday] I'm quite happy because I think this season has started going well from our game... against Tottenham in pre-season.
"Our first game in pre-season was against United and we lost and the second [sic] was against Tottenham and there we created maybe eight or nine or 10 chances to score lots of goals – we missed a lot – but there we saw altogether, not me, the players saw, ok that is the way we have to do it.
"Since then I think we maintained that level, with ups and downs of course, for example at Bournemouth we won in the last minute and Southampton we won in the last minute, but in general we maintained that level that we started against Tottenham in pre-season... and now we've maintained that level for three or four months and that's why we are so happy."
Guardiola also excused Sergio Aguero for an angry reaction to being substituted in the 58th minute against Tottenham, the Argentine throwing his gloves to the floor in disgust upon being withdrawn in favour of Gabriel Jesus.
"That's normal," the City coach said.
"The players want to play and I can understand him. He wants to play. He's a top player but in that moment I needed a little bit more energy with Gabriel in that position, so that's why I took that decision.
"Always I don't want to hurt the players, believe me. Always I understand them because I was a football player, they want to play, but I have to take the decisions... when I take a decision I think about many things, it's never personal because I trust a lot in these guys."
|Shaw issue a distraction from Manchester United´s failures, says Neville|
|Hamsik withdraws from Slovakia squad|
|RFU backs Jones despite awful Six Nations|
|Hamilton eyes Melbourne pole record, 100 club for Vettel? - Australian GP in numbers|
|Griezmann backs Pogba to prove doubters wrong for France|
|Sanchez ´expected something better´ from Manchester United move|
|WATCH: Thomas conjures up great escape in Austin|
|Javi Martinez in the dark over Spain squad omission|
|Jones should have managed England workload - Flood|
|Giggs feeling the tension ahead of Wales debut|
|Juventus confirm Alex Sandro thigh injury|
|Hart praises ´loyal guy´ Southgate amid World Cup axe fears|
|Windies singing in the rain as they clinch World Cup spot|
|I miss Morata, says recalled Costa|
|I can improve even more at Manchester City - Bernardo Silva|
|Neymar will be fit for the World Cup, insists Ronaldo|
|Costa thinks Griezmann will stay at Atletico Madrid|
|Third DRS zone added for Australian Grand Prix|
|Ferdinand worried by England´s World Cup striker options|
|Hamilton an F1 great - Fittipaldi|
|Stam leaves Reading after wretched run|
|Neymar is great, we´ll see if he joins Real Madrid – Asensio|
|Appalling racism must stop - Inglis|
|Maguire tips ´nightmare´ Vardy to replace injured Kane|
|Red Bull duo: Mercedes still the team to beat|
|Wait and see - Root refuses to confirm new-ball role for Broad|
|Malcom ready to leave Bordeaux and chase Bayern ´dream´|
|Surprised Smith says Rabada appeal verdict draws ´line in the sand´|
|Asensio insists Zidane was not unfair to him|
|Griezmann wants future resolved before World Cup|
|F1 2018: Hamilton v Vettel - the race for five titles|
|Nocerino wants Conte return after Italy´s World Cup ´disaster´|
|Celtics capitalise on Thunder meltdown, Harden scores 42 points|
|Jason Day hungry to reclaim top ranking: My game is close|
|Iconic 2002 World Cup haircut was media distraction, reveals Ronaldo|
|New Zealand star Taylor fit for day-night Test|
|Teenager Anisimova to face Muguruza in Miami|
|McIlroy credits Wayne Rooney for improved putting|
|Stokes return a ´huge boost´ for England – Root|
|Wright: Difficult for Liverpool sensation Salah to resist Real Madrid|
|Yaya Toure yet to report for international duty, confirm Ivory Coast|
|Masters favouritism could hinder Woods, Thomas claims|
|I wish I could still play with him – Ortiz on Red Sox addition Martinez|
|Morrison confirms plans to play for Jamaica|
|Warriors target Friday return for Curry against Hawks|
|Starc and Marsh set to play at Newlands|
|Red alert: Richard Sherman ´excited´ to be a 49er|
|Germany should be proud to have Sane, says Tah|
|Bertrand out of England friendlies with back injury|
|Optimistic McIlroy ´crossed that line´ with Bay Hill win|
|Young backs Mourinho over Shaw treatment|
|BVBolt? Athletics great scores header while training in Dortmund kit|
|Fekir will look to leave Lyon the right way, says agent|
|Ex-Springboks coach Meyer takes charge at Stade|
|Spieth relishing Reed match play showdown|
|Alisson loves Roma and we haven´t discussed Liverpool move, insists agent|
|Henderson becomes third Ireland player to sign new deal|
|Romo ready to create ´mental bubble´ ahead of PGA Tour debut|
|McTominay: I always wanted to play for Scotland|
|Chiesa vows to honour Astori with Italy displays|
|England´s Pope ready for Heaton challenge amid World Cup race|
|Lautaro Martinez confirms impending Inter move|
|Morata wasn´t happy with Spain snub, admits Alonso|
|Raiola rages over Italy´s Balotelli snub|
|Injured Saunders postpones Murray fight|
|PGA tightens security at Dell Match Play in wake of Austin bombings|
|Raiola hopes Reina to Milan hastens Donnarumma exit|
|F1 Raceweek: Hamilton prepares to begin title defence in Melbourne|
|Former Sevilla coach Berizzo eyeing return after beating cancer|
|Cutrone did not expect whirlwind Milan season and Italy call-up|