Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini sees the month of December as crucial to whether his team has a realistic chance of the title. First up on Thursday night, though, are Salzburg with a place in the knockout phase of the Europa League in sight.
It is start of hectic schedule for a club anxious to compete in the Champions League next season.
City will play seven matches in December - five in the league - and 10 games in different competitions in the next six weeks.
Mancini said: "This month will be very important for us as we have some difficult games against strong teams.
"During this spell we can understand what we must do for the future. It will be very tough because we play every three days.
"But first we must try to beat Salzburg and go through to the next stage. Then we play just two games in February. That will give us time to concentrate on the league and that could be an important month too."