Yaya Toure and Frank Lampard's strikes took Manchester City up to second in the English Premier League table and handed Southampton an ominous start to a daunting run of festive fixtures coming up.
Toure and Lampard provided the crucial calm finishes before Gael Clichy blasted home his first City goal in a 3-0 win at St Mary's which lifted the defending champions above Saints in the league standings. The assured visitors even shrugged off a red card to defender Eliaquim Mangala to inflict Saints' first home defeat of the league campaign.
Ronald Koeman's men battled hard against City but in the event Manuel Pellegrini's men possessed more than enough nous to prevail. Toure teed himself up for a trademark pitching-wedge chip as City pressed earl on, only to loft the ball too feebly and straight at Saints goalkeeper Fraser Forster as part of a nervy first 15 minutes for the hosts, who escaped a penalty shout before settling.
Graziano Pelle failed to connect with Dusan Tadic's cross, but Steven Davis collected the loose ball and blasted goalwards. Joe Hart parried desperately into the box, but despite the danger City still managed to clear.
England man Nathaniel Clyne's bad defensive read then gifted City the chance of the half. The Saints full-back raced out of the line only to realise far too late that Jesus Navas was hot favourite for the loose ball. The Spaniard hustled onwards and sent Stevan Jovetic racing in on goal. The Montenegro striker then had the half's sole gilt-edged chance, but could only fire straight at Forster. In the ensuing scramble Saints cleared the ball off the line, further frustrating City's efforts.
The hosts' ambition eventually caught them cold after the break when a loose pass allowed Fernandinho to pick Clyne's pocket.The astute Brazil midfielder continued to hustle, dispossessed Wanyama on the edge of Saints' area - and teed up Toure.The towering Ivorian picked his spot and slotted the ball past the helpless Forster, via a small deflection.
City emptied their bench in a bid to cement control, and Navas should have doubled the lead when dragging a shot wide of the target. Mangala was then dismissed for a second yellow card, after taking out Shane Long when the Saints striker was about to edge through on goal.
Former Chelsea midfielder Lampard killed the clash with ten minutes to play however, coolly driving home after sloppy Saints play invited City to counter. Refusing to allow the game to meander to a close, Clichy capped another fine City raid, blasting high into Forster's net to rub salt into Saints' open wounds.