City again did their job as they wait for an opportunity to get back into the title race.
The champions continued their pursuit of rivals United by easing to a fourth win in succession at the expense of Fulham.
Silva grabbed both goals, the first inside two minutes and the second a sublime chip, in a 2-0 victory over the Cottagers at the Etihad Stadium.
Silva had scored only one goal previously this season and his recent return to form has given City a lift after losing Yaya Toure for the African Nations Cup.
He got on the scoresheet by pouncing when Mark Schwarzer parried an Edin Dzeko shot and he demonstrated his class in doubling the lead by combining with Carlos Tevez and lifting a shot over the goalkeeper.
The Spaniard said: "It was great to get two goals and I had the opportunity for a third, for the hat-trick, but I didn't make contact as good as I wanted. But it is the points for the team that really matter.
"It was a good game; the important thing was to get three points and put some pressure on United."
City have recovered their poise since losing to United and Sunderland in December and are determined not to give up their crown without a fight.
Striker Dzeko said: "We have to just keep doing what we're doing.
"I think Manchester United will drop points sooner or later but we just need to keep the pressure on them."
City were the dominant team and although Fulham frustrated them at times in the 67 minutes between Silva's strikes, they could have won by a greater margin.
Silva was inches away from a hat-trick when he rolled a shot past the far post just moments after making it 2-0 and late substitute Sergio Aguero had two good chances on his return from injury.
Dzeko also had opportunities, not least when he fired over from close range in injury time.
Meanwhile, Tevez has announced he will not seek a new contract at Manchester City when his current deal expires next year.
The Argentinian said he would have preferred to be playing for Boca Juniors against River Plate rather than facing Fulham on Saturday and added he plans to return home in the summer of 2014.
"I have a year left on my contract and Manchester City want to sign me for two more seasons," he said. "However, Boca's president has said the door is always open for me to rejoin them and I'm dying to pull their shirt on once more.
"I want to end my career there. It is my dream and that of my family. I'd love to be playing for them against River Plate. It would be better than playing against Fulham."
This time last year Tevez was back in Argentina in the wake of his falling-out with City manager Roberto Mancini, after failing to warm-up against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
"I used to call Mancini every name under the sun but now I understand he does things for the good of the team," said Tevez.