Manchester City opens title defense; must it always be so doggone dramatic?

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The top two, summary lines from the broadcast of Manchester City’s latest high-drama, high-value win today:

This from the waning seconds of Sunday’s 3-2 victory at home over recently promoted Southampton: “It’s just about done for City, but my word, they’ve made it complicated.”

And this: “You need a strong heart to be a City fan.”

There remains near universal agreement that this year’s Barclay’s English Premier League race is a two-dog hunt. It’s all about the Manchester tandem, City and United, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s United generally tipped to topple City’s short reign.

Indeed, Robin van Persie’s acquisition has the look of “final piece” assembly as the Reds seek to regain their city-wide and league supremacy. So it’s on City to keep up – and that means absolutely, positively claiming the “Ws” at home against the featherweights.

In comes Southampton, a club that leans toward the bottom of that big group of “everyone else.” (“Everyone else” roughly defined as clubs not named Manchester this or that, Chelsea and perhaps Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool.)

What transpired in the reigning champions’ first 2012-13 contest looked remarkably similar to the way Roberto Mancini’s men left it last season:

Against Queens Park Rangers last spring, the Blues left it for even later. They trailed 2-1 heading into injury time. An Edin Dzeko goal put his team in position to manufacture the late, vital game winner. Sergio Aguero provided that, and the Etihad sang in joyous song.

Saturday, a late Dzeko goal once again arranged the stage in 2-2 drama. This time, it was Samir Nasri slamming home from close range, as Manchester City did, ultimately, begin its championship defense with all three points.