Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure and Vincent Kompany must rediscover their best form if City are to challenge for a third title in five yearsGetty

Last season

Premier League: 2nd

FA Cup: Fourth round

League Cup: Fourth round

Top Scorer: Sergio Aguero (32)

Summer's work

After weeks of speculation, contract uncertainty and ill-advised agent outbursts, Raheem Sterling finally completed his move from Liverpool to Manchester City last month in a deal that could eventually reach as much as £49m ($75.8m), making him the most expensive English player in football history.

Fellow England international Fabian Delph has also arrived in somewhat controversial fashion, signing a five-year contract at the Etihad Stadium just days after he claimed publicly to have no intention of leaving his role as Aston Villa captain.

Both Sterling and Delph will help boost City's homegrown quota after it was left depleted by the departures of Frank Lampard (New York City FC), James Milner (Liverpool), Micah Richards, Scott Sinclair (both Aston Villa), Dedryck Boyata (Celtic) and John Guidetti (Celta Vigo). Highly rated midfield starlet Patrick Roberts is also a significant addition in this regard following his move from Championship outfit Fulham.

Budding Turkish international striker Enes Unal is Manuel Pellegrini's only other signing during the transfer window to date, although he has been immediately dispatched for a loan spell in Belgium with Genk.

Other departures include Alvaro Negredo and Matija Nastasic, who completed moves to Valencia and Schalke respectively in the aftermath of successful loan spells. Stevan Jovetic has joined Inter for 18 months with a view to an eventual permanent deal, while Karim Rekik has opted for Marseille and Jordy Hiwula drops down a division with Huddersfield Town. Edin Dzeko is on the brink of joining AS Roma after the two clubs agreed a £14m fee.

Raheem Sterling
Raheem Sterling struggled for form last season, but he will be expected to make a big impact at Manchester CityAFP

Manager – Manuel Pellegrini

With City having provided a meek defence of their 2013/14 title and suffering defeats at the hands of Burnley, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and rivals Manchester United that left them languishing in fourth, all the talk in March and April was of the experienced Chilean being handed his P45 at the end of the season.

The charismatic Jurgen Klopp was touted by some as an ideal successor, although he subsequently decided to take a sabbatical having called time on his seven-year stint in charge at Borussia Dortmund. Carlo Ancelotti was another potential option but the experienced Italian is yet to return to the dugout after being dismissed by Real Madrid in May, as well as requiring an operation to ease his spinal stenosis.

As it is, Pellegrini remains at the helm with only 12 months on his contract left to run and he will be under pressure to ensure that City are suitably positioned to maintain consistency and regain their place atop of the Premier League ahead of Chelsea, as well as likely challengers Arsenal and, of course, United. Further progress in Europe is also likely to be a mandatory requirement after he became the first manager to guide them past the group stages of Europe's elite club competition last term.

Working with the knowledge that he is unlikely to be at the club next summer could prove tricky for the former Real and Malaga boss, although he often appears remarkably calm and unflustered by the constant churning of a rumour mill that has suggested, among other things, that Pep Guardiola will be willing to leave Munich for Manchester as soon as 2016.

Key player – Sergio Aguero

An obvious choice, perhaps, but it's difficult to understate the continued importance of Aguero to City's cause.

The diminutive Argentine is a wonderful technician and lethal finisher, winning the Premier League's Golden Boot award last season after notching 26 goals in 33 appearances – six more than Diego Costa and five ahead of Tottenham's Harry Kane.

It's fair to say that Aguero has something of a chequered injury record, but he was available for the majority of the 2014/15 campaign barring a month out with a knee problem in December. A shoulder issue suffered during his country's run to the Copa America final in Chile last month thankfully does not look to have been causing too many problems and the 27 year old will need to display increased durability if City are to be successful.

Sterling should improve on last year's tally of seven top-flight goals, but with Dzeko and Jovetic heading to Serie A and January buy Wilfried Bony yet to prove that he is capable of replicating the sort of form that earned him a £28m switch from Swansea, Aguero's contributions will be more vital than ever.

Expectations

A third domestic title in five years, strong cup runs and a place in the latter stages of the Champions League has to be the ultimate aim once again for a club that has grown used to competing for silverware over recent years.

The reputation of Sterling has been repeatedly knocked by the events and unpleasantness preceding his Anfield exit, although it certainly should not be forgotten that he remains one of the finest young talents in Europe.

Delph should also prove a handy addition, meanwhile, and is useful enough to avoid early criticism as merely destined to follow in the footsteps of Sinclair and Jack Rodwell as another overpriced English stooge.

Further incomings will no doubt be expected, but City's high expectations could be hindered by Louis van Gaal's recruitment drive at Old Trafford and Arsenal's obvious confidence. Pellegrini may take heart from Chelsea's questionable pre-season form, however.

Sergio Aguero
Sergio Aguero's goals and fitness remain crucial at the EtihadGetty

IBT prediction - 4th

If City's major players can rediscover their best form, Sterling makes a major impact and Aguero can remain fit throughout the entire campaign, then it is not unreasonable to suggest that Pellegrini's side can become more consistent and provide a sterner test of Chelsea's title credentials.

However, with United having made several key additions and Arsenal also looking strong, they could easily find themselves slipping behind their closest rivals. Whatever happens, you imagine a top-four spot is guaranteed unless Liverpool or Tottenham can perform consistently above expectations. Guardiola awaits?