Belgium worldwide De Bruyne threaded two exquisitely weighted passes in behind Shakhtar's defence midway through the first half, but first Aguero and then Gabriel Jesus were caught offside as they gave chase.
Fonseca said: "Our Brazilian players help us a great deal".
Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (knee) and defender Vincent Kompany (calf) are not yet fit. "There is a long time to go, and a lot of games still to play".
Kyle Walker released De Bruyne down the right flank three minutes later and his cross presented Sterling with what looked like a straightforward finish, but the England winger put the ball wide as he slid in at close range.
David and Bernardo Silva are expected to take their place on the left and right flanks respectively with De Bruyne in the middle, just in behind Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero.
"That is what I have to try and win titles and for that, you have to win games".
Paulo Fonseca will be without the services of Captain Darijo Srna, who is now embroiled in a doping scandal after he tested positive for a banned substance.
Shakhtar themselves have released their own statement to confirm that Srna was not banned from playing, but supported the player's decision to leave himself out of the match day squad.
Taras Stepanenko and Fred are expected to act as the holding midfielders.
Their current group contains eight Brazilians - six of them midfielders - and two Argentinians, who are both strikers.
Manchester City's red-hot start in front of goal has them top of the Premier League on goal difference - but can they keep it up?
Tensions rise as Iraq Kurds defy Baghdad in historic independence vote
The foreign ministry in Tehran said its land border with Iraqi Kurdistan remained opened however, reversing an earlier statement . The President said Turkey will announce measures against the independence vote later this week.
Shakhtar Donetsk have conceded 14 goals in their past 4 UEFA Champions League away games.
City have now scored 22 goals in September alone, with two more games still to play.
Its tough to look at this Manchester City side and not think that goals are nearly guaranteed.
Aguero has started this season on fire for City, scoring 7 goals and providing 3 assists in 7 appearances across all competitions.
"At the same time, FC Shakhtar Donetsk considers the use of doping in sport unacceptable". The Argentine, who once spent an ill-fated season on loan at Newcastle, seems to have rediscovered his goalscoring touch.
Chelsea lost to them, 3-2, in the Group stage of the 2012/13 season but United beat them a year later.
Pep Guardiola said beforehand that Shakhtar would make it hard for City, that they were a good team with good players who knew what they were doing at this level.
The Ukrainian champions are not to be underestimated. It is a good dressing room to be around.
The Croatian veteran said: "First and most important, I would like to make it clear that I have never knowingly or intentionally taken any prohibited substance, nor unfairly meant to gain a competitive advantage".