It's been a while since Manchester City last played in the English Premier League. And during that time they have seen Chelsea march to the top of the table, setting a nine-point gap from Manuel Pellegrini's men.
After three weeks of no Premier League fixtures, owing to their participation in the two domestic cup competitions, City will look to make a winning return when they travel to Hull City in the early kickoff Saturday.
City currently have 57 points from 26 games, with three games in hand to Chelsea, who have 66. A win at the KC Stadium against Hull is paramount to stop the Blues, who play Aston Villa later on Saturday, from further widening that gap.
"We must try to fight," Pellegrini said. "It is not only Chelsea [that are competing for the title] -- there is also Arsenal and Liverpool and they will fight until the end. Maybe Tottenham are far away at this moment but this is a very close Premier League.
"We need to win all the games from now until the end of the season. The game against Hull is special because we have less than 72 hours to recover but it is a chance to see our mentality.
"The amount of games we've played in the last month is very high so the positive now is that we can focus on the Premier League. It is so important to win on Saturday."
City are of course recovering from a disappointing Champions League exit at the hands of Barcelona on Wednesday, and Hull manager Steve Bruce will be keen to take advantage of any frailties that might still exist in their opponents' squad come Saturday.
"They've [City] had a difficult week, and with these big teams when they've had a difficult week they'll come out fighting," former Manchester United defender Bruce said. "After a difficult week the one thing they will want to do is come here and turn us over. We know we'll have to be at our best and also hope that they aren't quite at their best.
"There's no doubt that there is an advantage for us with them having travelled to Barcelona and back, but we have to make sure that we play well. The league is a huge priority for Manchester City now. A week ago, everybody was asking if they could go and win four trophies.
"We have to be aware that there could be a backlash because of the talent they've got and the expectation that goes with them now. People are saying that it's a good time to play them, but I'm not so sure.
"They'll be disappointed and hurt after losing in two cup competitions and what makes the great teams is that they come out and show their teeth after something like that. I expect them to be fully at it on Saturday."
Hull are on a high after entering the semifinals of the FA Cup, where they face Sheffield United at Wembley. City, on the other hand, are reeling from defeats to Wigan in the FA Cup and Barcelona in the Champions League - their bouncebackability will definitely be put to the test by the Tigers.
English Premier League: Hull City Manchester City Live TV Information (Match starts 12.45 pm GMT, 6.15 pm IST, 7.45 am ET)
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|United Kingdom||BT Sport 1, Talksport Radio|
|Middle East||Bein Sports Arabia|
English Premier League: Hull City vs Manchester City Online Live Streaming Information (Match starts 12.45 pm GMT, 6.15 pm IST, 7.45 am ET):
|UK||HERE or HERE|
Team news: Hull City: Bruce does not have too many injuries to worry about with Robbie Brady, Paul McShane and Joe Dudgeon the only players sidelined.
Manchester City: Pellegrini saw Sergio Aguero yet again pull up with an injury against Barcelona, and the Argentine will certainly miss the game against Hull, along with Matija Nastasic, Micah Richards and Stevan Jovetic.
"Tomorrow [Saturday], we will know exactly the extent of Aguero's injury," Pellegrini revealed. "We do not know exactly what is wrong. He will be out for more than one week but I don't think it is very serious. I hope that he will only be out for a couple of weeks."
Expected lineups: Hull City: McGregor; Rosenior, Chester, Davies, Figueroa; Elmohamady, Livermore, Huddlestone, Meyler; Jelavic, Long.
Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Kolarov; Toure, Fernandinho; Nasri, Dzeko, Silva; Negredo.
Prediction: 2-1 to Manchester City