Kevin De Bruyne was already looking towards another title tussle with Liverpool after Manchester City won at Wolves, adding that team glory ranks above his personal exploits despite a standout performance.
City won the Premier League in 2017-18 and 2018-19, holding off the Reds down the home stretch in the latter season, but then relinquished their crown to Jurgen Klopp’s team last term.
Liverpool registered six points from the opening two matches of their title defence before Pep Guardiola’s men even took to the field, with City making a late start due to their involvement in the Champions League in August.
However, De Bruyne broke the deadlock at Wolves on Monday, had a hand in Phil Foden’s second and then, after Raul Jimenez halved the deficit, supplied an assist for Gabriel Jesus in stoppage time.
The reigning PFA Players’ Player of the Year, who created six chances in all, did not shy away from the challenge before City.
“It’s obviously hard,” De Bruyne told Sky Sports. “It’s a little bit of a weird season, but we know we have to start well.
“Wolves have been a bit of a bogey team for us in the last couple of seasons, so to come here and do this performance is encouraging, because we’re missing a few players.
“I think the team played really well. The only thing we really can do is play game by game. We know Thursday [Bournemouth in the EFL Cup] is another one and we’ll try to do our best.
A flying start!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 21, 2020
“We know if the pace is the same as the last three years, it’s going to be a hard job. We want to fight against [Liverpool], we need to fight against them.
“I think we make each other better and that, for me, is what sport is all about.”
De Bruyne had 20 league assists last season, tying Thierry Henry’s record, and was awarded his first of the new campaign after tackling Willy Boly before Jesus netted.
Yet individual statistics are of little concern to the midfielder, who has also scored 14 times since the start of last season – his 35 goal involvements the most of any Premier League player in that time.
“I don’t know if my output is going to be more,” he said. “I’m perfectly happy with the way the second goal goes. That’s why we have so many attacking players – so I can slot them in and they can do the rest.
“I would prefer to have five goals and five assists and go away with the title. You can contribute in a lot of ways.
“I’m a midfielder, I know these days it’s a lot about statistics, but I try to set myself [the goal] to play the best that I can for the team.
“Obviously, if I have good numbers, it’s going to help myself, it’s going to help the team. But even if I play badly, I need to try to contribute in one way or another. That’s what I’m trying to do.”