Mark Hughes believes his side travel to Manchester City with defensive confidence rather than fear regardless of whether he changes formation.

Saints have kept back-to-back clean sheets with the same defensive four.

However, the task of trying to keep City out at the Etihad Stadium means there is a temptation to put in an extra centre half.

“You can go any way,” said Hughes. “You can change formations, you can change personnel.

“A lot of the fundamentals we’ve been working on apply irrespective of what shape or formation we go with. It’s more about doing the fundamentals of defending correctly.

“If I feel we need an extra one in there then so be it.

“You have got to be positive in what you’re doing.

“You can go to Man City and sometimes if you get too close to them they can get a little bit angry with you and go off the leash. I went there with Stoke and scored twice against them and it made them angry and we ended up getting beat 7-2. That’s what happens.

“You have got to go there with the attitude we have worked well, our training has been good, we are in a confident frame of mind in terms of our defensive work, so let’s use that and see where it takes us.”

Taking on City, especially away from home, is a daunting prospect, and for a manager a hard one to get right. Go defensive and get picked off and you are accused of being too negative, go positive and get beaten and you might be criticised for opening up.

“I think the case is that sometimes if you get beat you get beat but you can sometimes console yourself by virtue of the fact you couldn’t have done any more, couldn’t have given any more, or couldn’t have affected what happened in the game because for the most part we did everything,” reflected Hughes.

“That’s what sport and football is like. You can do everything correctly and still get beat.

“You get more professional acceptance of that if you have performed at the level you know you are capable of both individually and collectively so that’s what we’re looking for.

“On the day you take your chances and you hope maybe if they do create clear cut chances your goalkeeper plays well, your defenders play well, you keep them out and suddenly you get an opportunity at the other end and your strikers score.

“I have been there before. I have won at Man City 1-0, I’ve drawn there on a couple of occasions so it is possible, but you have to have things going for you and ride a little bit of the crest of any luck that’s going.

“You have to try to remain positive in what you have talked about before the game.

“They are a good side, without doubt the best Man City side you could argue ever given the results they’ve got and the strength in depth they’ve got, so you are going up against an exceptional team but that should never worry you to the point you don’t think you can get anything out of the game. That’s not what we’re thinking.”