Roberto Mancini is looking to return to the Premier League summit on Saturday after claiming an important victory over Chelsea to cut the gap at the top to one point.
Manchester City had been in danger of remaining four points adrift of leaders Manchester United when they fell behind to Gary Cahill's goal in the second half of Wednesday's match at the Etihad Stadium.
However, they hit back to win 2-1 and have the opportunity to go above their local rivals by beating Stoke this weekend, at least temporarily as United do not face Fulham until Monday.
Mancini will not allow his players to get complacent as he expects a stern test at the Britannia Stadium but he was pleased with the battling victory against Chelsea.
The Italian said: "I don't know if it was a champions' performance but we gave a very good performance in a difficult game.
"I enjoyed it like the supporters. It was really important to win.
"It was difficult because we were playing against a top team but we want to go back to the top.
"We have a very difficult game on Saturday against Stoke and this game was important for the three points."
Mancini admitted it was a tense evening on Wednesday as City saw a couple of good opportunities come and go before Chelsea opened the scoring.
"I was frustrated in the first half when we had three or four incredible chances and didn't score," he explained.
"In this moment, at this stage of the season, when you get chances you need to score because it is very important.
"But I think they gave a fantastic performance; they wanted to win and they deserved to win the game. We didn't deserve to lose.
"It was a big performance, we expended a lot of energy and now we need to recover very well."
Mancini does concede that recent form has been a concern, with away results preventing them pulling away from United.
United took over at the top after City were beaten at Swansea 11 days ago, which was their fourth away league loss in the last three months.
City also went out of the Europa League to Sporting Lisbon a week ago and Mancini said: "I don't think we have played well in the last three or four weeks.
"At times we have played some fantastic football but in the last month we have been so-so. But after this hopefully something can change."