Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany was dropped to freshen up the side after their damaging loss at Liverpool, says manager Manuel Pellegrini.
Centre-back Kompany, 28, was an unused substitute for the 2-0 win over bottom club Leicester City following a run of poor form.
Pellegrini, who made five changes, said: "He took it very well and without any problems. It was to refresh the team as it was for all those players."
City had lost their previous two games.
Defender Pablo Zabaleta, midfielders Samir Nasri and Fernandinho, and forward Edin Dzeko also made way from the side that lost 2-1 at Liverpool on 1 March.
Kompany has appeared in 19 of City's 28 games this season.
The £6m signing from Hamburg in 2008 was a key figure behind both of City's title triumphs in 2011-12 and 2013-14.
But his indifferent form lately has coincided with City falling off the pace in the title race.
Pellegrini's side had an identical record with Chelsea at the top of the Premier League on 1 January.
But they are currently five points behind Jose Mourinho's side with 10 games remaining.
Pellegrini refused to confirm if Kompany would return for the next game against Burnley at Turf Moor on 14 March after Martin Demichelis and Eliaquim Mangala helped keep a clean sheet.
He said: "We will work Thursday and Friday then after the weekend we will start preparing for the next game."
City's £25m striker Wilfried Bony had a frustrating night on his first start since his move from Swansea City.
The 26-year-old failed with a succession of opportunities and was fortunate to escape conceding a first-half penalty when he dragged Jeff Schlupp back in the area.
Pellegrini added: "It was important for him to start the game and to have some chances.
"I thought he worked the whole game very well."
The stats behind Man City's victory
- Manchester City have won six and drawn three of their nine Premier League games without Vincent Kompany in the side this season.
- This was the first time in the Premier League that Manchester City have won a point or scored a goal against Leicester City at home.
- James Milner has scored in three of his last four Premier League appearances. His previous three goals came over a 71-game period in the competition.
- David Silva has scored six goals in his last seven Premier League appearances at the Etihad Stadium.
Danny Mills analysis
It is a strange decision to leave Kompany out. To have him on the bench even is odd - Pellegrini has opened himself up to all sorts of speculation. He has dropped his captain, City's best defender for three seasons. It's a big, brave call.
Would it not have been slightly easier, with all that Manchester City are going through, to leave him out of the team and leave him out altogether?
Then you can say he's been rested, or whatever. To have him on the bench is a clear indication that Kompany has been dropped.
Jermaine Jenas analysis
Pellegrini has form here, in the dropping of Kompany. He dropped England's number one, Joe Hart, for a period.
It did him a great deal of good, and I'm sure Kompany will return a rested and much improved player.