Manchester City moved two points off the top of the Premier League as Kyle Walker's long-range strike was enough to see off winless Sheffield United 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
Pep Guardiola's men had won just two of their opening five league games of the season and are yet to hit top gear ahead of Liverpool's visit to the Etihad next weekend.
The visitors dominated the game, but had just Walker's speculative shot to show for it as they again lacked a ruthless streak without a natural striker.
Ferran Torres played as the centre-forward in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus and the Spanish winger had a number of chances to grab his first Premier League goal.
Aaron Ramsdale was busy in the Blades' goal as he twice-denied Torres from close range, while he unconvincingly parried Rodrigo's long-range effort behind.
Walker finally broke the deadlock from similar range on 28 minutes as his shot arrowed low past Ramsdale's right-hand, but there was a muted celebration from the England international against his boyhood club.
The one-way traffic continued early in the second-half as Torres failed to lift the ball over the stranded Ramsdale as he rushed off his line.
Kevin De Bruyne flashed a shot across goal and wide following another attacking burst from Walker before Ramsdale produced his best save of the game from Riyad Mahrez's free-kick.
However, City's failure to kill off the game gave Chris Wilder's men chances to snatch an unlikely point.
John Lundstram had the best chance for the hosts when he side-footed Sander Berge's low cross over. But Sheffield United have still scored just three goals in seven games to start the season and remain second bottom on just one point.
City, by contrast, have won four of their last five in all competitions as they slowly click into gear after a disrupted start to the season due to injuries, coronavirus cases and just a two-week long pre-season.
Manager Pep Guardiola said: "We played really well. We struggled to score goals from the chances we created. 16 shots, eight on target, so it's a lot against this team.
"They play incredibly well down the sides, the patience they have, but they had one clear chance and no more than that.
"It's our third game in seven days, all away, it's so demanding. People have responded to that well."