He believes their new-found wealth brought a major change in transfer policy during his time at the club. However, the 23-year-old harbours no hard feelings towards his former club and has no regrets about moving to Chelsea, where opportunities were also limited.
Sturridge started training with City's first team aged 17 and made his debut in February 2007, only for his season to soon be curtailed by a hip injury.
The takeover by former Thailand prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in the summer of 2007 took the transfer budget up a level as then manager Sven-Goran Eriksson brought in Rolando Bianchi, Valerie Bojinov, Felipe Caicedo and Benjani during the season.
When Eriksson was replaced by Mark Hughes the following campaign - and the mega-rich Sheikh Mansour assumed control of the club - Jo, Robinho, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Craig Bellamy were all brought in.
Sturridge was named City's young player of the season in May 2009, but by then he had already decided to allow his contract to expire and subsequently signed for Chelsea.
"I went into the first team when the influx of money came in (from Shinawatra) and they had a lot of strikers coming in," said the England international, who faces City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.
"When the new owners (Sheikh Mansour) came in they started spending more money and so for me it was always going to be difficult.
"People said I was greedy to sign for Chelsea and leave City but they (City) are the richest club in the world, so why I am being greedy going to a club with less money?
"When I moved to Chelsea it was again difficult with (Didier) Drogba and (Nicolas) Anelka there.
"I knew I wouldn't play every week but I knew I would learn from both players.
"I think I've not had an opportunity to show what I can do but I am delighted with how everything went at both clubs.
"I won some trophies with Chelsea, won the Youth Cup with City which will always be with me for the rest for my life.
"I had some great friendships there, so I'd like to thank them for bringing me to where I am today - the Academy people at City were fantastic."
Sturridge has continually had to deal with accusations that he has not delivered on the potential he showed, but it is something he rejects.
He is still relatively young and believes, given the time and a good run of first-team football, he can deliver at the highest level.
"For myself, I don't want to worry about what anyone says," he told Sky Sports.
"When you are at a big club at a young age and people think you have not produced they will be on your back, especially if you have a senior player sitting on the bench and you are playing.
"People don't realise that from the age of 17 I've had seven managers. It has been difficult to settle for me.
"I had Stuart Pearce, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Mark Hughes at City and then Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto di Matteo and Rafael Benitez at Chelsea.
"For any player who has so many managers it is difficult to settle, because for managers it is difficult to play young players when there is a lot of pressure and adversity at a club. But I am more mature now and I am ready to play.
"Hopefully this is the club I settle at and stay at for many years to come.
"I have no worries, no stresses. I already have a love for the club and it is growing day in, day out and hopefully we can stay in love for the rest of our lives."
Sturridge attracted criticism when he signed for Liverpool by stating there was no bigger club in England - just days before they played Manchester United - although he maintains his comments were misrepresented.
But his opinion on the club he joined for £12million almost a month ago is in no doubt.
"There are not many similarities between Liverpool and my two other clubs," he told Sky Sports.
"When I was at City they weren't on the level of United, Arsenal or Liverpool - but nowadays they are - and when I signed for Chelsea they were a big club already.
"But the history of Liverpool means the only team who compares is Man United.
"You only realise how big this club is when you actually get here. It is a blessing to be here."