July 19th 2009. Mark this day down. This is the day the universe changed, or at least the footballing world as we know it.
This isn't about the signing of a player, or two or five. City fans are a resilient lot. We take the good and the bad generally with a wry smile. There's a history to the club, a pedigree, and most of us fully acknowledge the barren silverware period that the club has endured these past 33 years. City have for most of our living memory always been somewhat of a punch line, the glory days of the 50's long gone.
Even the recent good fortune of acquisition is held against the club by many in the media and by opposing fans. A so typical British response that we are acting beyond our station, mixing in a rarified nobility where we have no business.
We get it.
And July the 19th that all changed. Here's Frank Lampard's quote from the Guardian speaking about John Terry.
"No one should doubt that John wants to be successful. He is a winner. This is not just about the money and people shouldn't try to make it that black and white. It's understandable [to react like that], because it's Manchester City who have come in, but it's up to John what happens. I can say that I'm very proud each time I play with him and, as a club, you want to keep players like John Terry."
Do you see it? "It is understandable... because it's Manchester City who have come in"
This isn't the Kaka circus or any other ludicrous rumour that has floated around. Frank Lampard, one of the top 5 players in the Premier League has acknowledged that Manchester City are a legitimate power. That means more than any amount of money, because once the top players consider City a serious destination then the world's best players are not out of reach, the Champions League is very much in play and silverware becomes a reasonable expectation.
Whether the club sign John Terry is now, ironically, unimportant. Mark Hughes' statement of intent has been made and noticed by the top players.