PREMIER LEAGUE: Birmingham City 3 Manchester City 1
As one fallen hero attempted to pick himself up on Saturday, it was an emerging St Andrew's star who ultimately won this match for Birmingham City.
Gary McSheffrey - harangued by his own fans, despite clearly not lacking effort throughout the 90 minutes - would have hoped to have boosted his stock among Blues fans by bagging his fourth goal of the season, and first since Boxing Day, with a neatly-taken 75th-minute penalty.
Yet even if the former Coventry City player had dominated proceedings for the final quarter of an hour he would have found it difficult to overshadow the new kid on the block in B9.
Because, while McSheffrey failed to ignite the same flame that burned so brightly a year ago, Alex McLeish's Argentinian discovery, Mauro Zarate, set St Andrew's alight with two quality strikes.
Last week's depressing defeat to fellow relegation strugglers will remain a video nasty for Blues' Scottish manager but at least McLeish has his own video nicey to look back on following this crucial victory over SvenGoran Eriksson's stalling Manchester City.
Zarate, on loan from Qatar club Al-Sadd, followed up a cool 40th-minute opener with a clinical 18-yard drive nine minutes after the break to lift his tally to three goals in two games.
The South American's brace not only over-shadowed Franck Queudrue's debatable sending-off and Elano's fight-back spot kick but, unfortunately for the maligned McShef-frey, it took the gloss off his fortunately-forged penalty.
McLeish knew all about McSheffrey's talent prior to moving south of the border but his new-found knowledge of Zarate proved to be all the more unique, as the Blues manager revealed.
"I'd only seen Zarate on video before I came here," McLeish said. "When I was in the Scotland job I watched the under-20s tournament in Canada. I didn't go across, if Scotland had got to the next stage I would have gone across, but I watched all the games which we were lucky enough to get on satellite television.
"I saw Zarate and his partner Aquia, I think he went to Spain, and the two of them looked fantastic young prospects with great talent. I spoke to a player who I had at Rangers, Ronald De Boer, who played in the same league as
Zarate in the Middle East in Qatar, he said he was undoubtedly a talent and he's got a big future ahead of him."
Blues watched Man City striker Benjani waltz through their defence and strike Maik Taylor's post early on, after Fabrice Muamba had dangerously handed possession to Elano, before they finally clicked into gear.
Then Radhi Jaidi's cleared header off the line and Joe Hart's save from Queudrue's tricky bicycle kick paved the way for Zarate's opener.
Makeshift centre back Queudrue, back in the starting line-up for the first time in exactly two months, threaded an impressive ball from the back through to Zarate, who responded in style by lofting his effort over the outcoming Hart.
Fourteen minutes and a half-time breather later, Zarate was lighting up a rain-soaked St Andrew's yet again, this time rifling the ball into the bottom left-hand corner with aplomb from distance to hand Blues a two-goal cushion.
However, referee Rob Styles' fifth red card in eight games ensured that this wasn't a routine victory for Blues. Muamba's sloppy back-pass put Benjani through on goal and the Zimbabwean tumbled with ease after feeling the touch of Queudrue's hand on his shoulder leading to the Frenchman's marching orders. It was harsh on the former Fulham man who was having a fine game.
McLeish said: "From where I was sitting in the dugout I was thinking that it looked like a penalty because I thought our boys would struggle to catch Benjani.
"Franck thought that Jaidi might have been able to make the tackle but if the ref deems it a goal-scoring opportunity, he's got to go."
Elano's successful spot kick initially looked to have put the Mancunians in the ascendency but it was a case of what goes around comes around.
McSheffrey was bizarrely awarded a penalty for barging into Chinese defender Sun Jihai, who charged over to his manager's dugout with a look of bemusement.
It didn't matter for McSheffrey who bagged the penalty but the day belonged to Zarate who was given a hero's reception when he was substituted for Garry O'Connor in the final minute of the game.
Scorers: Zarate (40) 1-0, Zarate (54) 2-0, Elano (pen, 59) 2-1, McSheffrey (pen, 77) 3-1.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Taylor; Kelly, Jaidi, Queudrue, Murphy; Larsson, Johnson, Muamba, McSheffrey; Forssell (Parnaby, 70), Zarate (O'Connor, 90). Subs: Doyle, Nafti, Jerome.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-1-1): Hart; Sun, Dunne, Onuoha, Garrido; Fernandes, Hamann (Gomez, 72), Ireland, Vassell (Caicedo, 59); Elano; Benjani (Mpenza, 81). Subs: Isaksson, Corluka.
Referee: Rob Styles (Hants).
Bookings: Manchester City - Caicedo, Gomez. Sending-off: Birmingham - Queudrue professional foul).