It was the tale of the two new managers at the Etihad Stadium - with Pep Guardiola and David Moyes taking charge of their first competitive fixtures.
The majority of the cameras were trained on the home dugout, no surprise given former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has taken over at City.
But it was Moyes that almost had the last laugh.
He came within seven minutes of a superb opening day result, having almost outwitted the great tactician Guardiola.
Moyes sprung several surprises with his team sheet, the majority of the decisions forced upon him given the injury situation.
No Jan Kirchhoff, Billy Jones, Lee Cattermole or Seb Larsson through injury.
It meant a patched-up side with Donald Love making his debut at right-back, and a midfield duo of Jack Rodwell and John O'Shea, with Lynden Gooch in from the start too.
Wahbi Khazri and Jeremain Lens benched.
Fans feared the worst and their view hadn't changed after Patrick van Aanholt's clumsy challenge to give away the clear penalty.
But as the game panned out, Moyes' tactics almost paid off in style.
Sunderland didn't cave, Gooch provided great energy down the left and was a big threat, while Love battled after a very shaky start. He looks raw but full of potential.
When Khazri and Adnan Januzaj entered from the bench, Sunderland had fresh impetus for the final 20 minutes and got their reward through Jermain Defoe. Who else.
It appeared Moyes had pulled off a masterstroke, contain City and hit them on the break late on.
It almost paid off. Paddy McNair with an unfortunate own goal late own.
It is hard to judge Moyes and his side after this game, given the amount of injuries he had to contend with and the limited options to pick from.
But Sunderland were well organised, produced a spirited display, the younger players did themselves no harm and Defoe is up and running again.
Next up Middlesbrough at home. The Premier League is back.