Manchester City go into Wednesday's match at home to Chelsea knowing they face a significant test of their Premier League title hopes.
City's 1-0 defeat at Swansea on March 11 saw Roberto Mancini's men lose top spot in the table for the first time since October.
Local rivals Manchester United's 5-0 thumping of Wolves on Sunday means City will kick-off against a revived Chelsea four points behind the champions.
United have a simpler run ahead of their trip across town to Eastlands in the third last game and City supporters acknowledge another slip at this stage could potentially kill off their hopes of a first title since 1968.
Mancini could call on Carlos Tevez for the first time since September after the Argentina forward returned from three months of self-imposed exile in his homeland.
The striker has made two appearances for the reserves and could feature against Chelsea, almost six months since falling out with Mancini after refusing to come off the bench against Bayern Munich.
City defender Joleon Lescott insisted the squad would have no problems welcoming back Tevez into first team action.
"He's like a new signing. He's not been injured so he is not going to be struggling too much in terms of sharpness and fitness," Lescott said.
"All the boys are excited and can't wait for him to get playing again," the England international added.
Roberto di Matteo takes his fifth-placed Chelsea side to Eastlands in search of a fifth straight win since taking over from the sacked Andre Villas-Boas. Two of those wins have been in the FA Cup against Birmingham and then Leicester City eliminated from the knock-out competition.