After an even opening 44 minutes, Spurs capitalised on City mistakes to scored twice in 129 seconds before the interval through Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal.
But in an inversion of their usual performances, Spurs crumbled after the break and their lead lasted just eight minutes of the second half, with City hitting back through Julian Alvarez and then Erling Haaland.
The magnificent Riyad Mahrez scored twice more for the champions to reduce the gap to Arsenal to five points and leave Spurs in a hole.
Dan Kilpatrick was at the Etihad Stadium to rate the Spurs players…
Hugo Lloris – 3
Lunged off his line to leave Alvarez with an empty net for City’s first goal and was beaten at his near post for the winner. Had earlier made a sharp save from Rico Lewis.
Cristian Romero – 6
Briefly looked back to his menacing best, putting in a magnificent sliding challenge to dispossess Jack Grealish, but part of a defence which quickly cracked in the second half.
Eric Dier – 5
Made a smart block to deny Julian Alvarez in the first half but struggled with Haaland’s movement.
Ben Davies – 5
Could not get close enough to Mahrez to prevent the winger’s excellent strike.
Emerson Royal – 6
Reacted quickly to double Spurs’ lead with a smart header and was fairly solid defensively.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – 6
Battled well in the middle but lacked finesse on the ball.
Rodrigo Bentancur – 7
Added composure, quality and remarkable energy to the midfield. Made the opening goal with his pressing of Rodri.
Ivan Perisic – 2
Beaten too easily by Mahrez for City’s first three goals in a terrible defensive performance. Should have scored a first Spurs goal, too, but his shot was deflected onto the woodwork.
Dejan Kulusevski – 7
Took his goal well and was involved in Spurs’ best moves. Squared for Perisic’s effort off the woodwork.
Heung-min Son – 4
Tested Ederson with a first-half header but alarmingly hesitant and below his best again.
Harry Kane – 5
Excellent in the build-up to the second goal, winning a crunching 50:50 with Rodri before his shot was parried to Emerson by Ederson.
Ryan Sessegnon (Perisic 69′) – 5
Limited impact from the bench.
Yves Bissouma (Bentancur 73′) – 6
Tried to drive Spurs forward from midfield.
Richarlison (Emerson 75′) – 6
Linked up a couple of times with Kulusevski on the right but not a natural winger.
Clement Lenglet (Davies 75′) – 4
Struggled with the pace of the game and all over the place defensively. A strange sub.
Subs unused: Forster, Doherty, Sanchez, Tanganga, Sarr.