There has been a lot of criticism of Roberto Mancini's tactics the first couple weeks of the season, and I have to say I don't particularly care for what he is trying to do, but I can at least see what his plan is. He is putting the emphasis on defense and possession. Apparently, his mindset is something along the lines of, "We have the talent to score whenever we want, and that is what the impact substitutes will be used for, but our first priority is keeping clean sheets."
In actuality, Man City's system is very similar to Chelsea in their final season under Jose Mourinho, the height of the "boring, boring Chelsea" era. The ingredient that Man City is missing in this comparison is Frank Lampard. All of their central midfielders are defensive, there is no one pushing up right behind the striker and chipping in with goals from late runs into the box. Against Liverpool today, both Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry (pictured) appeared to get forward more than one would expect, but neither is ideal for that role.
Once a club reaches the talent level that the Blues have, so much depends on mindset. And all Mancini wants them to think about is preventing goals, retaining possession, and scoring when they need to do so. There are going to be games like today, where they put several chances away, but we will see a lot more 1-0 than 3-2 at Eastlands this season. Eventually they will have to find the equivalent of a Lampard, a Steven Gerrard, a Cesc Fabregas, or a Paul Scholes, that is, an attacking central midfielder who scores goals as well as creating chances for teammates. This club is going to win a lot of matches this season, and probably will qualify for the Champion's League for next season, but they are not going to win the lead until they get that big piece in central midfield.