Gaston Ramirez has rarely looked like a £12million player since joining Southampton but gave a glimpse of his undoubted quality in their unconvincing Capital One Cup victory against Bristol City.
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Signed to much fanfare last summer, the 22-year-old has impressed only fleetingly since swapping Bologna for St Mary's.
Ramirez has not started a Premier League match since April 13, but his performance in the 2-0 win against City will have given manager Mauricio Pochettino food for thought.
The Saints boss named a completely different line-up for the third-round clash, with Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez the only two starters from Saturday's win at Liverpool included in the 18-man squad.
It gave a chance to fringe players to shine - an opportunity Ramirez grabbed at a quarter-full St Mary's, albeit against League One opposition.
Having netted in the 5-1 win at Barnsley in the second round, the Uruguayan hammered home a sumptuous volley to put Saints ahead after 15 minutes.
Playing with style and swagger, Ramirez came close twice more in the first half and continued to prove a handful after the restart.
However, while struggling in the league, City knocked out Crystal Palace in the previous round and returned for the second half rejuvenated.
Joe Bryan, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Bobby Reid and Stephen McLaughlin all threatened to level for the Robins, who dominated for large spells of the second period.
However, Jos Hooiveld's powerful header seven minutes from time ended City's hopes of winning their first third-round tie in a decade - a match Saints ended with 10 men after Ramirez hobbling off in stoppage time.