Sterling combination play with Sergio Aguero and David Silva caught the eye as Southampton simply could not deal with City's flamboyant front line as they took their total goal tally for the season up to 33.
City scored a fourth in first-half stoppage time after Aguero had robbed Cedric Soares as the Southampton defender was attempting to usher the ball out for a corner.
The Spaniard continued: "The first season, he was scared, he was looking, who is the guy I am going to pass the ball to?"
"We have come up against City and created a number of chances again", said a rueful Hughes. "Any other work you have prepared and the game plan you want to implement goes out the window".
But Guardiola said it was too early to claim that Sterling is one of the best players in the world as he still needs to increase his consistency.
Raheem Sterling put in an incredible performance this afternoon as Manchester City tore apart Southampton in clinical fashion, the game eventually finishing with the score 6-1. "He is 23 and he can be a better player".More news: Fortnite will get balloons immediately, and you'll pop them with bullets
"Still he loses simple balls, like the Tottenham game, when he made an fantastic assist in the first few minutes but then lost a lot of balls".
Danny Ings pulled one back for Southampton from the penalty spot, but Raheem Sterling added his name to the scoresheet with a couple of goals of his own either side of half time, before Leroy Sane rounded off the scoring in added time.
And Alvaro Morata also found the net twice as unbeaten Chelsea defeated Crystal Palace 3-1 to move to second on the table, two points behind the league leaders.
Liverpool held Manchester City to a goalless draw at Anfield last month, although Pep Guardiola's men spurned a glorious opportunity to snatch all three points with five minutes remaining of the game, but Riyad Mahrez skied his penalty over. The teams showed me some signals that in some positions we are not stable enough.
"We need to improve that at the top end of the pitch and clearly we needed to improve the back end as well".
"When you concede those situations in next stage of Champions League you are out because the level is higher".