The former Villa captain returns to his old club for the first time and is expected to run the gauntlet.
Villa defender Curtis Davies said: "I'd like to think the fans would clap Gareth but I've got a feeling it will be jeers.
"He gave this club good service. But obviously football is very fickle and I think people see the short-term picture.
"But maybe he's thought that long-term maybe City might have the structure to become a Champions League team more so than us. That's Gareth's choice - but we'll beg to differ."
Villa midfielder Craig Gardner also remarked: "Gareth didn't put a foot wrong at Villa. He was a role model and I, like a lot of others, looked up to him.
"I spoke to him when I was up, I spoke to him when I was down, and he was just a top class pro.
"It was a shame to lose Gareth but he's moved on. Hopefully for Gareth's sake, he does get a brilliant reception from our fans because I think he deserves it for what he did for Villa during his time here."