Manchester City took just 14 minutes to find the back of the net and reach the century mark of goals for the season but the entertainment had only just begun. Manuel Pellegrini's title chasers, who stay a point behind leaders Arsenal, are not only the Premier League's goal kings but its thrill-makers in chief.
Once Edin Dzeko had registered their 100th goal, the first time an English side has achieved such a feat before the end of January, City just kept on seeking to add to the tally. And in they flew. First Jesus Navas, then a stunning effort from Yaya Toure and a final flourish from Sergio Aguero, who stepped off the substitutes' bench, all getting on the scoresheet.
Yet for all their frightening goal power, City still have defensive frailties, exploited by Craig Noone who fired home an unlikely equaliser, and Fraizer Campbell, who scored a second at the death. Pellegrini was happy to salute his goal centurions, who have now amassed 42 in 11 home league appearances and are on course to beat the all-time record, 133 goals, set by Arsenal in 1930-31. "It is important for the team. It's is not easy to score more than 100 goals in little more than the middle of the season. It reflects how we think about how we must play," he said.
"We are confident in what we are doing. We are a creative team. We have chances in every match to score a lot of goals and I think today the first 45 minutes was the best we have had so far. And today we missed five or six clear goals."
It was a swift, not to say brutal, crash course in how Manchester's footballing landscape has changed for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the former United favourite who has taken charge at Cardiff and finds himself at the foot of the table after two league defeats. While the Norwegian was helping United to the treble in 1999, not least with his Champions League final winner, City were scuffling with the likes of York and Gillingham in what is now League One, Now it is City who play with a swagger, a confidence born of 11 straight home league victories. Solskjaer said: "We felt with 15 minutes to go we had the crowd not sure of three points and it was a great response after the poor start we made. Our start was too defensive. There is no doubt they have a terrific team with terrific players. We've been tested by one of the best teams in Europe and that is what we have to learn from." If Cardiff expected a bombardment, they were not kept waiting, Within 30 seconds their backline had been split by David Silva's pass and only a fine tackle from Kevin McNaughton prevented Dzeko from moving City ahead.
Goalkeeper David Marshall was the next to deny Dzeko, turning away his ninth-minute drive. Cardiff crumbled five minutes later, undone by Aleksandar Kolarov's quick throw-in to Silva, some trickery by the Spanish schemer and Dzeko's close range finish, which clearly crossed the line before being hooked away. As stewards moved in to quell a brief disturbance among the visiting supporters, City went in search of more goals. Marshall again saving well, this time from Negredo after another defence-splitter from Silva, and Navas flashing a shot wide.
City supporters prepared for a goal feast, but when the next one arrived, it left them dumbfounded. Cardiff probed down City's left flank and Noone was able to skip into the area before rifling beyond Joe Hart. It was a magnificent moment for the embattled visitors but they had only four minutes in which to savour parity. Toure shrugged off two challenges to set City rolling, his pass to the lurking Dzeko bouncing on to Navas, who finished with a well-placed low shot into the far corner. Yet Cardiff had no intention of going quietly and Hart was twice summoned to make sprawling saves from Jordon Mutch. The home side were fitful, perhaps Cardiff even dared to dream, especially after bringing on Craig Bellamy, the former City forward who was greeted warmly.
Then, as if tired of City's timidity, the magnificent Toure fired into action. Clearly riled at giving away possession, the Ivory Coast giant won back the ball and embarked on a one-man charge deep into Cardiff territory, pausing only to exchange passes with Aguero before shooting low past Marshall Aguero, making his second appearance off the bench after a two-month injury lay-off, struck three minutes later with a rasping finish and City piled forward in search of more, only to be caught cold when, following a Cardiff corner in injury-time, Campbell pounced from close range. It was a far away echo of Campbell's winning strikes in Cardiff's 3-2 defeat of City back in August. But no matter.
Next for City, who are still in four competitions, is West Ham on Tuesday for a Capital One semi-final in which they hold a 6-0 first-leg lead. It's 103 and counting...