Manchester City 4, Albion 0

Graham Potter wanted his team to be themselves at the Etihad.

So, four games into the new season and potentially new era, what exactly are this new Albion?

The phrase ‘work in progress’ hardly seems to do them justice.

Leaving aside that awful term Potterball, the word ‘revolution’ is one you tend to see and hear in relation to what is going on with the Seagulls.

That’s nearer the mark. A revolution in progress.

Never was that in sharper focus than on Saturday, when Potter asked his men to be true to themselves and learn a few lessons.

To a large degree, they played Pep Guardiola’s champions at their own game. And City ended up being better at it.

Albion set themselves up to widen and lengthen the pitch and they passed from deep. Very deep at times. They invited the press on to them knowing that, if they broke through it, the field could open up.

By and large that did not happen. The passing, though usually accurate and often attractive, was not quite quick and sharp enough to fatally puncture City’s well-organised ranks.

But it was brave. Everyone agreed on that, not least Guardiola himself and ex-Albion skipper Bruno, whose Instagram post on Saturday evening read “Really proud of them #courage” and was accompanied by a blue heart.

For the first time, Albion started with three of their summer signings as Neal Maupay and Leandro Trossard were joined by Adam Webster, making his Premier League debut. Changing times.

Webster’s introduction meant Shane Duffy being named among the Albion subs for the first time in the league after 106 starts. Changing times.

And, when he went on with Glenn Murray, Aaron Connolly became the first Albion player to bridge the gap from under-23s to Premier League.

Albion played some good stuff and created a couple of decent chances as well as other promising situations. But they lost 4-0, their heaviest defeat in six games against this modern day City.

The signs are there of what Potter is looking to achieve and never has it been seen more clearly than against the masters from Manchester. But there is a long, long way to go yet. And they DID lose 4-0.

Potter was proud of his team but told The Argus: “We have to analyse what we could have done better.

“We could have played through a little cleaner at times. We had opportunities to do that and maybe turned things down “Then it is harder to break their lines consistently and get into the final third.

“But, at the same time, we did it quite well too.

“Defensively there was a good understanding of when we were going to go high and when we were defending deep.

“We pressed a few times in the second half and got some regains high up the pitch.

“I have to analyse things in a more detailed way. What I learnt was the players’ honesty and character was top.”

To approach the game as they did, Potter needed his players to buy in wholeheartedly.

After all, it was the men out there who would be asked to control a pass and give the ball on as Pep’s famed press converged.

There were tantalising mentions and hints from the camp in the run-up to the game of Albion having a plan, though no one was saying what it was.

Potter said: “I think there was a belief there that we wanted to try. I spoke to the players and they communicated that.

“It doesn’t matter, a coach can say whatever. You have to convince the players that it’s worth doing something.

“The season isn’t defined on how you do at Manchester City.

“It is how you keep improving along the way. That’s what we have to do. We are at the start of what we are doing but we need to improve.”

Some things don’t change. As in the FA Cup semi-final, Albion were punished by Kevin De Bruyne very early on.

This time the Belgian, whose cross teed up Gabriel Jesus at Wembley, finished after David Silva ran on to Oleksandr Zinchenko’s measured pass and cut the ball back.

Zinchenko’s ball through was carefully weighted and David Silva made a clever run inside Davy Propper.

But Propper, having checked over his shoulder on the Spaniard’s movement, should have been stronger in cutting the ball out or at least preventing the cross.

Albion had done enough going forward to make the second goal, well taken as it was, seem cruel.

Riyad Mahrez flicked, De Bruyne probed and Sergio Aguero’s run saw him drift across Webster and Lewis Dunk before shooting high past Maty Ryan.

The Albion response was bright. Trossard had a good chance before the break but Ederson blocked his shot.

He had an even better one in the second half when he failed to get proper contact on his finish after Martin Montoya won the ball high up and Neal Maupay crossed low.

Trossard is a joy to watch and looked at home in this company.

But he has scuffed good chances at Birmingham, in pre-season, and against West Ham and this time his weak contact allowed Fernandinho, on for the injured Aymeric Laporte, to head away.

City were not messing about when Aguero received David Silva’s lay-off, took a touch or two to get the ball in front of him and then curled unerringly into the far top corner.

Bernardo Silva rounded it all off with his first contribution as a sub after Montoya’s infield pass proved there is a difference between calculated bravery and careless bravery.

Not all change is for the better. There is no guarantee that what Potter is trying to build will pay off but players and fans appear to be buying into his vision.

We saw enough in heavy defeat to be cautiously encouraged.