The Sunday Mirror says sources close to the Eastlands board claimed that Mancini believed he was taking over 19 days ago. It is alleged that City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak met Mancini in London on November 30.
Mancini has told friends he reached an outline agreement on his new job and would be working for the mega-wealthy Arabs.
However, two days later City smashed Arsenal 3-0 to reach the Carling Cup semi-finals. Sacking Hughes seemed inconceivable with the club on a high.
But with Chelsea due in Manchester a few days later the next opportunity for Hughes to face the chop appeared imminent. Yet City won their clash with the Premier League leaders 2-1.
Hughes may not have known he was a dead man walking but his team were doing him proud. Even with 10 men at Bolton, they fought back three times to grab a 3-3 draw.
Last Wednesday's 3-0 defeat at Tottenham proved the moment for the City hierarchy to strike. The plan was to have Mancini in place for his appointment this weekend. Plans were set for a Monday press conference to announce the switch.