It was deja-vu all over again for Manchester City as the Barclays Premier League champions opened their title defence with a thrilling 3-2 victory over newly-promoted Southampton.

Not only was the score exactly the same as that never-to-be-forgotten final home game against QPR last season, so was the scoring sequence, and even the ends they went in at the Etihad Stadium. The major difference was that this time, City did not wait until injury-time before responding to falling behind.

Edin Dzeko was the man who equalised again though, before Samir Nasri fired home the winner 10 minutes from time. It was tough on Southampton, who stuck doggedly to their task, but paid the price for only holding their lead for four minutes as Rickie Lambert and Steve Davis responded to Carlos Tevez's first-half opener.

City lost Sergio Aguero to injury early on, the Argentina forward tumbling awkwardly under a Nathanial Clyne tackle. Without being near their best, it did seem City would make light of Aguero's absence when Tevez turned too smartly for Joss Hooiveld in the box and he sent his opponent to the turf.

David Silva rolled a penalty straight at Kelvin Davis but Tevez ensured Saints failed to make it into the break on level terms. He could not have timed his run any better as Nasri spotted him about to dart beyond Saints' defence.

This time Jose Fonte was the defender who failed to keep tabs on his opponent, and Tevez made him pay by drilling a low shot into the near post.

It was only after half-time that the ghosts of May 13 began to swirl. Lambert's omission had been something of a surprise in the first place. Introduced by Nigel Adkins, the striker took three minutes to make his mark as he seized on a loose ball and guided it superbly into the corner.

Worse was to come for the hosts when debutant Jack Rodwell gifted possession to Southampton inside his own half. Davis had been on the pitch even less time than Lambert but he had his shooting boots on as well and Southampton found themselves in front.

The drama continued. Dzeko pulled City level with a first-time shot.

And 10 minutes from time Nasri belted home from 12 yards to complete yet another thrilling comeback.