But Pep Guardiola's irritated response to a question about this now being their best chance of winning club football’s biggest prize told its own story.
Guardiola is a big believer in living in the moment, drinking in every triumph. But he is aware of the pitfalls that await, even with Lyon standing in the way of the semi-finals and a one-game format for the remainder of the competition.
“It’s just one step and if we think this is enough it shows we are a small team,” he said.
Beating Real twice was seismic for a club that, at times, has appeared to be crippled by an inferiority complex against Europe’s traditional giants.
City were installed as favourites to win the Champions League but always felt like the underdogs against the weight of history in Real's favour. They will undoubtedly be expected to overcome Lyon, which is precisely why that quarter-final presents such an obstacle.
Under Guardiola, it has been on these occasions that City have fallen so spectacularly short. In each of his three Champions League campaigns in charge at the Etihad City have fallen to the underdog.
In his first season it was Monaco. History now tells us that the French side were packed with world-class talent; Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Fabinho to name a few.
But the when the round-of-16 draw was made in December 2016, City fans were celebrating the fact they had secured one of the weakest sides left in the competition. The rest is history.
It is easy to forget that defeat to Liverpool the following season came as a major shock. A full 25 points separated the sides in the Premier League that year.
Then there’s that crazy night at the Etihad against Tottenham. A game that, it has emerged, Raheem Sterling wanted to relive just to remind himself of the pain before Friday's victory against Real.
He would do well to reacquaint himself once more before Lyon, such is the danger of underestimating the French side after the euphoria of toppling Real.
That was certainly the message from Guardiola at full-time.
“We couldn’t beat Lyon last season, that’s the reality,” he said. “Let’s enjoy it today and then think about Lyon. We are here to try to win the Champions League.
“The big clubs lift titles. To get to the quarter-finals is good, knocking Real out means we are aware that we can do it. We’ve not had a lot of presence in Europe as a club so this is important.”
Asked if he thought this was City’s golden opportunity of winning the big one, he couldn’t hide his frustration with the question.
“And you speak with all the teams who will be there,” he said. “They will all think the same, why are we more special or different than the other ones? I don't see one reason why.
“To win the Champions League you have to beat a lot of teams who have the quality of Real Madrid. There is still Bayern Munich [and] Barcelona.
“I know the physicality and the quality of the [Lyon] manager. We have Atletico, two-times finalists. They twice beat what is for me now the best team in the world in Liverpool.
"There are many incredible teams of course, but it is an important step for our confidence, for this year, for the future it is incredible for us that we beat Real Madrid, but it is the last 16. We still have three games.
“We go to Portugal to stay there, be together, eat well, laugh a lot, work a lot and arrive in the best moment to try to achieve a semi-final for the second time in the club's history. That's why we have to be so calm and we will see what happens.”
The failure to stay calm has often been City’s undoing on this stage. After a coming-of-age result against Real, Lyon will provide a different test of their maturity.