This weekend, the first domestic trophy of the season will be awarded to the winners of the Carabao Cup.

Manchester City face Aston Villa at Wembley to determine the victors, but if the last meeting between the two clubs offered an insight into how the upcoming contest will materialise, then Dean Smith's side are set for an uncomfortable 90 minutes.

Pep Guardiola's men made the trip to Villa Park last month, winning by an insurmountable six goals to one. Sergio Aguero managed to bag a hat-trick, Riyad Mahrez scored two, and Gabriel Jesus also found the net.

Throughout the contest, the home side suffered from one overriding problem that City consistently exploited.

Simply, Villa failed to provide their defence line with enough protection to cope.

Guardiola's players have an innate ability to play incisive passes through the shape of their opponents, hence why the large majority opt to sit deep and play on the counter against City.

In January, Villa appeared torn between pressurising the ball and retreating, which led to a notable lack of compactness and excessive space for City's playmakers to utilise.

After 17 minutes, City scored their opening goal of the match and it stemmed from Rodri's line-breaking pass, pictured below.

Rodri bypasses six Villa players with one single pass
Rodri bypasses six Villa players with one single pass

One action from the Spaniard resulted in six opposing players being easily bypassed, with Mahrez then able to drive directly towards Villa's last line before finishing.

10 minutes later, Aguero bagged his first of the contest, with Kevin De Bruyne able to receive a pass from Joao Cancelo and with one exquisite first touch, he was again presented with Villa's last line, shown below.

De Bruyne's neat first touch allowed him to drive toward Villa's last line of defence
De Bruyne's neat first touch allowed him to drive toward Villa's last line of defence

The Belgian opted to feed Aguero from that position, who then found the net from outside the penalty box.

The fifth goal of the match was arguably the worst, though.

Cancelo again played a simple pass to De Bruyne having been closed down by Conor Hourihane. Once the pass bypassed the Villa midfielder, he turned and gestured his frustration to his teammates for their lack of pressing support behind him, shown below.

Cancelo passes beyond Hourihane who gestures to his teammates for not supporting his press
Cancelo passes beyond Hourihane who gestures to his teammates for not supporting his press

That single pass led to the situation that is captured below, with De Bruyne again completely free to drive towards Villa's defensive line with Mahrez to his right and three teammates to his left.

City attack Villa's last line of defence with excessive space to exploit
City attack Villa's last line of defence with excessive space to exploit

David Silva was fed and he then passed to Aguero, who comfortably found the bottom corner of the net.

For any team to cope against Guardiola's outfit, there must be an emphasis placed on compactness and being difficult to play through.

The ideals of closing down relentlessly and building sequences can't always be applied, with more pragmatic solutions required as a means of remaining competitive against such a dangerous opponent packed full of world-class talent.

If Sunday's Carabao Cup final is to follow a different route to January's 6-1 meeting, then Smith will have to ensure that his team are disciplined and cohesive without the ball rather than chaotic and disjointed.