Atletico Madrid's Copa Del Rey win over Real on Friday wasn't just about short-term glory, says Tim Stannard, but a chance to build for better things ahead...
Had Daniel Levy given Andre Villas-Boas the striker and midfielder he needed last summer, then Spurs would surely have finished above Arsenal. This was a predictable collapse...
'There were people on the pitch and it was all over. The 44 years, over. The punchlines, over. The mockery, over. Laughing on the outside, crying on the inside, that horrid little ticker at Old Trafford, those long Monday mornings at work having to pretend you didn't really care. Over, over, over.
'Gone, all gone. Gone in a moment of unparalleled drama and ecstasy. Gone when all seemed lost. Gone on a day when, for 45 minutes that must have felt like hot-needle torture, it looked as if the capacity for chaos that has almost become a club trademark through five decades had returned to torment them once more.
'The mission was quite simple. Manchester City needed to defeat Queens Park Rangers, the team with the worst away record in the Premier League, to win the title, barring a mathematical miracle in the match between Manchester United and Sunderland.
'Yet as this game entered injury time, the trophy was hovering over Wearside in preparation for delivery to Sir Alex Ferguson once again. United were winning, thanks to a 20th-minute goal from Wayne Rooney, and City were somehow contriving to trail 10-man QPR 2-1. There were tears, as there always are on this day of the season' - Martin Samuel in The Daily Mail.
'The stakes were huge - not just for City as they sought to end the 44-year wait - but for the authority of the man who was going to have to explain the greatest choke anyone could recall in the English game. Be glad for him that the nightmare did not happen. Mancini did not deserve to face the torment.
'He has made mistakes, some sizeable ones, and there is a decent argument to be had that City should have saved themselves yesterday's agony by wrapping up the title weeks ago. They finished ahead on goal difference but, in the two performances against United, looked a side who were at least six points better.
'The backing shown to Mancini by the Abu Dhabi owners, ousting unwanted players and recruiting expensive replacements, is of a scale that few managers have imagined. But as Mancini has stated enough times, it was never going to be a simple task to shepherd the stars assembled by Sheikh Mansour's oil wealth into an organised, committed squad' - Matt Dickinson in The Times.
'The prevailing criticism of the Mansour project has been that the stream of high-class footballers flowing through the club in the past four years have been a band of extravagantly paid mercenaries lacking the requisite team spirit and winning mentality to land trophies.
'When this began changing with last season's FA Cup triumph - the first trophy for 35 years - the disparagement became that if City were to win the title they would merely have "bought" it.
'Yet splurging cash on the English football's premier prize is a proud tradition. Since buying Chelsea in 2003, Roman Abramovich has also spent around £1bn to claim three titles. In 1995, Blackburn Rovers became one of only four clubs to win the Premier League courtesy of Jack Walker's millions, after the steel magnate had bought his local team four years earlier.
'City fans care nothing of finance. As Roberto Mancini, the City manager, said before kick off against QPR: "Most of all, it could be a day for our supporters to forget all the bad days and enjoy again the feeling of being on top of the table at the end of the season" - Jamie Jackson in The Guardian.
'It required a superior footballer - and competitive man - to impose a little order and quality and character on something that was otherwise destined to be remembered as one of football's most expensive and unbridled disasters.
'That it finished something quite different from that in the pale spring sunshine of east Manchester, that the most neurotic fans in English football found themselves stumbling joyfully from a Stephen King movie to something more worthy of Walt Disney, and were able to sing at last "We are the Champions", was because such a man announced himself at almost the very last moment.
'Sergio Aguero not only saved Manchester City's title in circumstances that had become surreal. He also made his entry in City's billion-pound title inventory shine with a new brilliance' - James Lawton in The Independent.
'Then Sergio Aguero scored the 94th minute winner against QPR that finally took City out of the reach of Manchester United. Only then did it feel as if the haunting was over, that the curse had been lifted, that the exorcism was complete. Because if you are going to shed a loser's identity, do it like City's players did it yesterday.
'If you are going to rid yourself of a reputation for finding a way to pluck defeat from the jaws of victory, do it like this. If you are going to stop people laughing at you, patronising you, loving you for being rubbish, do what City did against QPR. City came back yesterday when almost everybody had stopped believing in them' - Oliver Holt in The Daily Mirror.
'The outpouring of relief that flooded from the stands and down onto the pitch was as if someone had removed the cork from the world's greatest dam. Roberto Mancini led the rush of City staff onto the pitch as the season that we thought could not possibly offer any more came up with the most sensational ending the Premier League has ever seen. Then, again, this being City, should we have been surprised at all?
'For this is the club with the patent on sending their supporters half demented with frustration. And then encouraging them to beat their brains out against the nearest wall. It was back in 1999 that City fans congregated at Wembley a week after United had completed the Treble in Barcelona with another of the greatest comebacks of all time.
'At stake was promotion from the old Third Division via the play-off final against Gillingham. But it was more than that. Had City stayed down that year they would have struggled to hold on to the few half-decent players they had - and probably lost their main sponsors' - Steven Howard in The Sun.
'FA Cup one year, Premier League the next. It smells like evolution, even if City's Champions League adventure ended last autumn at the group stage.
'The quest for world domination is proceeding in a logical sequence, despite the long stand-off with Carlos Tévez, the ructions with Balotelli and the sometimes excruciating difficulty in assimilating so many egos and talents from so many nations.
'The sky blue swarms came here expecting an emphatic affirmation of the derby win against United and the impressive win at Newcastle, which was inspired by Yaya Touré. Instead they lost their midfield inspiration to a first-half hamstring injury and fell over the line, frazzled. All the old demons seemed to come filing back from the years of gallows humour and managerial revolving doors' - Paul Hayward in The Daily Telegraph.