Haaland is one of those players who is completely irrelevant until he isn’t. With six minutes remaining in this tense, slow-burning Champions League group game, you could be forgiven for forgetting about him.
Instead, the clear protagonists were John Stones and Jude Bellingham – a man playing out of place and a man playing every position.
Stones created the opportunity, blasting in the equaliser from long range. According to early season data, this is not Pep Guardiola’s best or most attractive team, but it may be his most interesting.
At halftime, there was a general consensus on social media that this had been a fairly dull game.
But City games can never be truly boring. The menace is all too present, the threat always implied if not always invoked, the squad too talented, too capable of outlandish and unspeakable feats.
They can always find a way to injure you, no matter how well you believe you have them covered. And it was Stones who rose to the occasion, with memories of Vincent Kompany against Leicester and other Alex Ferguson teams in the past.
Borussia Dortmund had undoubtedly given it their all.
They got tight, closed down the spaces, and didn’t panic on the ball like many teams do when facing City. Niklas Süle attempted a stepover on the outskirts of his zone.
Emre Can read a dangerous curling cross from Kevin De Bruyne and chested it down to a teammate instead of simply heading or hacking it away.
With a flicked header, Bellingham, a glamorous and inspiring presence in Dortmund’s midfield, put them ahead.
Phil Foden and Bernardo Silva made their entrance. And as Dortmund retreated into their lines, their rearguard had an epic feel to it. The travelling crowd struck up a pounding tribal rhythm.
Mats Hummels sent a cross just as Haaland was about to pounce, and was welcomed with back-slaps, high-fives, and goal-worthy celebrations.
Even this was a hint: an admission of the narrowness of their margins and the overwhelming magnitude of their task. Keeping Haaland silent for 75 minutes felt like a heroic task.
The bad news was that there were still 15 available.
And what can we actually say about that goal? Perhaps it was more of a physical achievement than a goal: a complete frame winched off the ground, the left leg elevated like a battering ram, Joao Cancelo’s exquisite cross poked in from a great height.
This is not the type of game City used to win, or at least not in the way they used to win them.
This is possibly why it is Guardiola’s most intriguing team. It lacks the flare and magnificence of its predecessors. Nothing is ruined or wasted: a tiny team that knows their jobs and does just enough!