VINCENT KOMPANY now stands alone as a link to the early days of the Manchester City revolution.
He is heading towards the sort of legend status enjoyed by John Terry at Chelsea or Steven Gerrard at Liverpool.
The 32-year-old is beginning his 10th season at the club and, following the summer departure of Pablo Zabaleta and another loan for Joe Hart, is the only player left who fully knows the journey City have been on.
And at a time when the loyalty of players is a hot topic, he declares that whatever happens: “I’ll be a Manchester City player for the rest of my life.”
And Kompany is making it his business to ensure no one ever forgets the parts played by his comrades from the time when City were playing catch-up with the Premier League’s super clubs.
“It’s football and nothing lasts forever,” he says of the splitting up of the City squad.
“I’ll tell people why Joe and Zaba were massive heroes here, and I hope people will pass things on about me one day.
“If you put it into perspective, winning two titles is an incredible achievement, considering where we came from.
“Of course, there’s been a lot of investment but we had to catch up on 25 years of dominance by other teams, not just football but financial dominance.
“When I came to City in 2008, there was a gap in the dressing room when it came to passing on the baton.
“Other people around the club would tell you about what Shaun Goater and Paul Dickov did for City, but it’s always more powerful when the message comes from the current players.
“It’s hard to do it when so much change is happening. Managers make decisions and if you don’t fit the plans, you can love the club as much as you want but you might have to move on.
“It’s not always in the player’s control, like people believe. The player’s choice will usually be to stay for a long time, because stability helps you develop and win trophies, but it’s not always possible.
“In theory, everybody should want loyalty. Sporting directors want a squad they can keep for many years, managers and the players want a stable team because that helps to win trophies.
“But in reality managers are thinking: ‘If I can find a better player, you’re out’, and players are thinking: ‘If I can find a club that wins more, I’m out’.
“I’ve been lucky to be at a club that has grown as my career has developed.
“City have given me so much, and I’ve given this club a lot, too. The relationship is going to be there, even when I finish playing because I’m already half a fan.
“I have confidence about the future because we have one of the best academies in the country and that shows there is vision and a long-term plan.”
A major part of that plan was the appointment of Pep Guardiola last year.
After a trophy-less first year, and a summer spend of well over £200m, this is a high-pressure season for the Spaniard and his players.
“I’m more excited than ever about this campaign,” says Kompany as he prepares for City’s first home game against Everton tomorrow.
“We’ve worked really hard to play the way the manager wants – building up, controlling games, strangling teams.
“It’s the first time I’ve ever worked so much on a game plan to beat any team.
“We laid down the foundations last season, making everybody understand what the plan is about.
“We have a few new players to integrate but there’s less to teach. It feels more natural.
“You have to have a very clear idea of what you’re trying to achieve, like Chelsea last season when everyone there understood their jobs.
“At United they probably feel the same yet there’s only one winner. That’s why it’s the best league in the world.
“It’s very clear to me that Pep’s No. 1 quality is that he sees the technical and tactical aspects really quickly.
“There are times when, as players, you are trying to figure out what’s going on but he breaks it down and transmits the message in a way we can understand it.”
Tomorrow sees the unveiling of City’s new Tunnel Club, a hospitality area at the Etihad where fans can watch players going to and from the dressing-room.
“You have to live with the times,” says Kompany. “You try to add value for everyone, improve their experience.
“We’ve had a few tunnel bust-ups in the past so maybe that will stop. Or maybe not!”
For more information on The Tunnel Club, visitmancity.com/thetunnelclub