Carlos Tevez's 10th goal of the season after just four minutes proved enough to see off Bolton, on a day when Mancini claimed his side had blown 14 clear goalscoring opportunities in three recent home games.
It should have been a cause for unquestioned celebration. Instead, the Italian was on the back foot, fending off his touchline row with Tevez after the City skipper had objected to being substituted in the final stages, and also a punch-up between Mario Balotelli and Jerome Boateng on Friday that ended up being blasted across the back pages.
"No player is happy to go off," said Mancini of Tevez. "This is normal. I want all players to be like Carlos and want to stay on the pitch. Carlos is an important player for us but at that point in the game, we needed someone taller."
That man was Balotelli, who for once managed to stay out of trouble, having come to blows with Boateng barely 24 hours earlier.
"It was not a tough decision to include Balotelli," argued Mancini. "Nothing happened on Friday. It was a normal situation that happens with every team every day. And Mario played well against Bolton. All he was missing were the goals."