In reality, the ball flew beyond the crossbar and into the Anfield Road End.

In the mind's eye of the Manchester City fans gathered behind the goal, Riyad Mahez’s penalty kept going and going, ending up somewhere between the Albert Dock and the Moon. Perhaps it’s still going.

City would have to settle for a 0-0 draw in October 2018, their wait for a win at Anfield extended for a couple more years and a title race left on the knife-edge where it would remain for the duration of an incredible season.

At that point, it is safe to say no City supporter wanted to see Mahrez standing over the ball from 12 yards ever again.

Fast forward three years and the Algeria star is Pep Guardiola’s Mr Reliable from the spot. It really is an incredible turnaround.

Mahrez is so sure of himself on penalty duties nowadays that he seemed to bounce up from Stanley N’Soki’s clumsy challenge and collect the ball in one fluid movement against Club Brugge on Tuesday.

No one was getting it out of the Ballon d’Or nominee’s hands and he steered his kick unerringly into the bottom left corner. Simon Mignolet went the wrong way. It wouldn’t have mattered if he’d guessed correctly.

A cool late finish to complete an authoritative 5-1 rout took Mahrez to six for the season - his status as City’s top scorer all the more impressive when you consider he has only featured fleetingly in the Premier League.

The second of his haul came against RB Leipzig, also from the spot and all the more impressive because of the different technique he employed to the one used in Bruges. On that occasion, Mahrez clattered into the top right corner, beyond Peter Gulasci.

Riyad Mahrez scored an emphatic penalty for Manchester City against RB Leipzig.

Are group games not high stakes enough for you? Well, he thumped one past Marwin Hitz as last season’s Champions League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund hung in the balance.

This might be tempting fate and committing sacrilege all at once, but maybe City have finally found their latest sure thing from 12 yards. A man to follow in the footsteps of Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure, from the days in the middle of the previous decade when “penalty” basically meant “goal”.

Mahrez might never inspire quite that level of confidence, his Anfield escapades alone account for that, but the improvement really is staggering.

Why? Well, without wishing to speak about Riyad indelicately, he used to be absolutely rubbish at them.

Mahrez’s Anfield miss was not an isolated incident. From January 2016, up to and including his Merseyside misfire, he failed to score six penalties for club and country.

City benefitted from this in slapstick fashion at the Etihad Stadium in 2017, when Mahrez slipped and kicked the ball twice, meaning his effort past Willy Caballero did not count.

Remember when the Blues beat Leicester on penalties in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals of 2017? Yep, he missed then as well.

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All that feels like ancient history right now for marksman Mahrez and his transformation can serve as an inspiration as well as a reassurance for his teammates.

Raheem Sterling was lively from the bench against Brugge but the Midas touch in front of goal continue to elude him.

Jack Grealish made the pitch wide, pulling the home defence into some ghastly shapes, but still needs to provide more of a consistent goal threat to make good on his promising start to life at City.

Sterling, Grealish and others who need to add things to their game here and there can look to Mahrez and his journey from penalty pariah to 12-yard titan and know all things are possible.

Are you still not confident when Riyad Mahrez steps up to take a penalty? Follow our City Is Our s editor Dom Farrell on Twitter to get involved in the discussion and give us your thoughts in the comments section below.