Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick after missing two penalties as Manchester City won 5-0 at Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier on Tuesday.
With Joe Hart again watching from the bench, the striker saw a spot-kick saved and blazed another over the bar either side of David Silva's 13th-minute opener.
But Aguero made amends by scoring just before the interval and then twice more in the second half after Nolito had netted his first City goal in a one-sided contest.
The visitors could have won by a greater margin but still look assured of a place in the group stage even before the second leg at the Etihad next Wednesday.
Whether Hart is still at City for the return leg remains to be seen, having again been left on the bench by Pep Guardiola in favour of Willy Cabellero.
Sky sources understand Hart is going to assess his options that are open to him over the next couple of weeks.
The only two changes for City from their weekend win over Sunderland saw Pablo Zabaleta and Nicolas Otamendi come in for Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy.
It was Steaua who threatened first as Nicolae Stanciu fired wide from 25 yards with Cabellero rooted to the spot.
But that was not a sign of things to come as the visitors soon started to create a flow of chances.
The first came from the penalty spot after Sterling was brought down, but Aguero saw his spot-kick saved.
City continued to look menacing in attack and took the lead in the 13th minute when Sterling slid the ball across the box for Silva, who drilled past the keeper.
Aguero had a chance to redeem himself when Zabaleta was fouled for another penalty, but this time the forward blazed over the bar.
A rare Steaua opening saw Caballero deny Jugurtha Hamroun, before Aleksandar Kolarov and Sterling hit the bar in quick succession.
Sterling then set up Aguero to fire home from the edge of the box in the 41st minute and Nolito added a third shortly after the break, having been picked out by Kevin De Bruyne's pin-point pass.
Nolito and Aguero went close as City continued to dominate in the Romanian capital.
Steaua struggled to make any impression on the game in the second half and Aguero made it 4-0 in the 79th minute when he finished into the corner.
Goalkeeper Florin Nita did well to keep out an effort from Nolito but City scored a fifth through Aguero in the final minute of normal time to put the tie beyond doubt.