There can be no clearer sign of the upside-down state engulfing the world than the sight of West Ham not being tonked by Manchester City at the London Stadium.

A 1-1 draw marked a disappointing way to end what has been a positive return from international duty for City, with fatigue being added to the usual questions asked of this team after a laboured performance that needed a spark from substitute Phil Foden to rescue a point.

Pep Guardiola's side have essentially taken ownership of this stadium any time they have visited, turning up, taking the keys, and locking West Ham out before strolling to victory. Five matches in all competitions have brought five away wins, 22 away goals and just one strike from the so-called home team.

The Blues were also unbeaten in their last 12 early kick-offs in a run stretching back to December 2016, while the manager's 9/0/0 win record against West Ham was the joint best in his managerial career.

These are strange times though. If the response to the pandemic has created a ridiculous spectacle of fans not being allowed into the open air in the ground but permitted to pack into a cinema at the shopping centre next door to catch the match action, on the pitch West Ham have been defying expectations for longer.

They kicked off above City in the table after thrashing Leicester and spectacularly earning a draw against Tottenham, and no team in the league had scored three goals in a match more than them across the whole of 2020.

Guardiola's selection also pointed to the unusual.

One of the team's biggest strengths during his four years and counting at the Etihad has been the strength in depth. Opposition teams have been psychologically daunted by looking at the quality on the bench before a game, and physically tired by the sight of the substitutes ready to come on.

The threat is always there (or nearly always) but where it comes from keeps everyone guessing, largely thanks to the fact that since October 2017, Guardiola has picked 172 lineups and never has he repeated an XI in consecutive games.

That makes it all the more curious now that he changed his habit and named the same side that had beaten Porto in midweek. When you don't do it usually, why do it in the most challenging season yet for player workloads?

Sergio Aguero was taken off a half-time

It was undoubtedly strange, yet to put the lethargic performance across the team solely down to that would be unfair to West Ham and David Moyes. Their plan of trying to use the pace of Bowen and Michail Antonio on the break made them a regular threat, while pushing the Blues into the middle of the pitch anywhere near Lukasz Fabianski's goal utterly neutralised the visitors.

After 18 minutes, Antonio hooked them into the lead in a fantastic bit of centre-forward play. As a cross came into the box, he managed to hold off City's latest saviour Ruben Dias and connect with the ball with his back to goal to turn it past Ederson from close range. City players were fuming that they didn't get a handball in the build-up and - as ever - there was uncertainty over VAR's role in it all, although there is no excuse for Ilkay Gundogan and others switching off to allow the cross to go in.

To be fair to Guardiola, he acted at half-time to placate the many supporters crying out on social media for an injection of pace and running with Phil Foden coming on for Sergio Aguero. The manager makes changes as early as that only marginally more than he picks consecutive XIs.

It made an instant impact, with the 20-year-old controlling Joao Cancelo's cross in the box before turning and finishing past Fabianski in a flash. Maybe the quality from the bench had worked again, but Foden's introduction felt overdue.

The sight of Antonio subbed off a minute later will have further calmed the Blues after the torrid time he gave their defence to further shift the balance of the game. Emboldened by the goal, Foden led as City pressed on with the midfielder's sprint to get a ball that had gone out of play indicative of the increased urgency he had added to the team.

City have been uncharacteristically lacking in attacking play so far this season though, failing to create good chances with the ages of possession they enjoy. With no further goal coming as the 70th minute approached, on came Kevin De Bruyne - the best and most creative player in the division - to try to engineer something on his return from a problem that has kept him out for around a fortnight.

West Ham sat deeper and retreated further inwards to present a problem that the Blues are by now more than used to facing: how to break down an ultra-defensive defence.

De Bruyne did his best to turn water into three points again. He tested Fabianski directly from a free-kick and then slipped in Sterling to run free at the goalkeeper, but a good chance went begging to cap off a tough afternoon.

The easiest answer to where City go from here is Marseille on Monday; a Champions League game is next up in the unrelenting schedule before a trip to Sheffield United next weekend.

What state the starters will be in though, as well as how many keep their place in the team, remains to be seen. Aymeric Laporte and Nathan Ake are not thought to be far away from full fitness and will be welcomed back, but won't necessarily solve the lack of fluidity that has plagued them in these opening weeks.

Guardiola has insisted that everything will revert to normal after a strange beginning to the season. Having dropped points against an opponent he has never done before, he will have to admit that settling down may take considerably longer than he thought.