Despite their control, though, they created few opportunities to score. New signing Nolito shot just wide with one effort cutting in from the right flank.
The exclusion of goalkeeper Hart was a surprise, although not a complete shock given Guardiola’s comments that he needs to be better on the ball, able to play as a sweeper keeper.
His replacement here, Willy Caballero, showed those qualities a couple of times, and impressed with a smart reaction save to keep out a flicked shot from Jermain Defoe after a spell of head tennis in City box.
There was little he could do about Sunderland’s equaliser in the 71st minute, begun with some fine skip by substitute Adnan Januzaj on the right flank.
A bright, swift passing move put Defoe a yard clear in the box — and that was all he needed to find the net.
Moyes was jubilant on the touchline. It was an eagerly awaited return for him to the Premier League after his misery on the other side of Manchester, and the Sunderland fans sang his name in appreciation.
As ever with his teams, Sunderland were supremely organised and compact in defence, with Lamine Kone outstanding at the heart of the action.
He blocked one point-blank shot from Aguero, but the visitors were fortunate when the City striker shot inches wide with another chance set up by the speed of Sterling.