Joleon Lescott: Wembley loss spurs Manchester City on against United

Lescott: Wembley loss spurs City on to prove they are more than noisy neighbours

Memorable and significant games between the two Manchester clubs have arrived in waves since Abu Dhabi money changed the landscape of the city's football rivalry.

Since that remarkable day in 2008, the two teams have shared 34 goals, met in semi-finals of the Carling Cup and FA Cup and left startling impressions on the Barclays Premier League with games like United's 4-3 win at Old Trafford in September 2009 and City's stunning 6-1 victory at their rivals' ground in October.

But according to one player who has figured in many of those games, the most important match in terms of accelerating City's journey to the top of the table came at Wembley in this season's Community Shield.

Joining forces: (left-right) Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, Zach Jones, Cailin van Straaten and City's Joleon Lescott. The clubs are raising funds for the young family who were devastated by a house fire

Joining forces: (left-right) Manchester United's Tom Cleverley, Zach Jones, Cailin van Straaten and City's Joleon Lescott. The clubs are raising funds for the young family who were devastated by a house fire

Two goals up at half-time, City were swept away by United in the second half. The Premier League champions won 3-2 and celebrated as though they had won a major trophy.

City defender Joleon Lescott said: 'That was the most significant result. We went to Wembley and they taught us a lesson. That humbled us a lot.

'We have used it to keep our feet on the ground and to concentrate. It made you realise Man United are still a force and the main team in the Premier League, the one that obviously everyone wants to catch.

'Going in 2-0 up at half-time, and I hate to say it, but maybe you think we're not going to lose, we're not going to concede three in a game of football, never mind a half. We were a bit naive. Since the start of the season we've never looked like that. We've always thought we need to get another goal. It taught us something about the mentality of champions.'

Stunned: City were dejected after losing the Community Shield last August

Stunned: City were dejected after losing the Community Shield last August

Roberto Mancini often talks about United's mentality, saying this week it will take two years for his side to match United in that respect. It is a mantra his players clearly buy into.

Asked if City have the mental strength to win the title, Lescott replied candidly: 'We won't know until we're there. We haven't been in this situation before.'

Nevertheless, the blue half of Manchester are clearly ready to stand up to Sir Alex Ferguson's team now, on and off the field.

Ferguson famously dubbed City 'noisy neighbours' when Mark Hughes was in charge across town and regularly suggests that Liverpool remain his club's fiercest rivals.

Lescott was happy to refute both points.

'After that 6-1 game we could have been really noisy but we showed respect,' he pointed out. 'We take it with a pinch of salt now. We took it as a bit more disrespectful at the start but I think even now they've started to regret saying it because we're consistent and a good team.

'It's an unfair label. We're not just making noise, we're top of the league and rightly so. We know now that wherever we go we're the team to beat. Manchester United have had that for a number of years but we're trying to emulate that.

'A lot more United fans take us a lot more seriously now. We are the main competition for the league at the moment. Obviously, history wise it is Liverpool but I think in recent years and in the future City will be their biggest rivals in the league.

Delight: Manchester United celebrate winning the Community Shield

Delight: Manchester United celebrate winning the Community Shied

Delight: United celebrated winning the Community Shield with gusto

'They find it hard to admit. They enjoy saying Liverpool is the biggest game to treat us as a smaller club. We don't mind that. I'm sure if we win the league people will have a different opinion.'

Joleon Lescott was speaking at a joint initiative between Manchester City and Manchester United to raise funds for a young family devastated by a house fire. Cailin van Straaten and Zach Jones lost their mother, brother and all their possessions when their home in Broadheath was destroyed last year. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/gmp