Midfielder Scott Sinclair's likely exit from Manchester City after a forgettable season is a stark reminder of the club's transfer market failings following last year's Premier League title.
While Sinclair is not the reason City handed the league crown back to Manchester United without much of a fight, his signing from Swansea City in August epitomised the club's low-key approach to squad strengthening.
Whereas neighbours United captured the prized signature of striker Robin van Persie, whose goals propelled them to a 20th league title, City's additions of Jack Rodwell, Richard Wright and Sinclair were ordinary by comparison.
Manager Roberto Mancini blamed himself on Friday for not giving 24-year-old Sinclair enough chances but for many City fans Sinclair's likely departure is more about whether he was ever the right calibre of player for such an ambitious club.
The fact that he is poised to leave less than a year after joining, having managed just three starts for the club, suggests he was not.
"It is my fault, not his fault," Mancini told a news conference. "A young player like Scott who is a good player deserves to play always. For him, it was a really difficult year this year.
"Scott is young and he has good quality but this year was difficult for him. I think it is better if he can have another solution."
Mancini has spoken of a desire to act faster in the transfer market this time round and has been linked with a move for Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho although he remained tight-lipped on the subject.
"Fernandinho is a good player but he plays for Shakhtar [Donetsk]," the Italian said.
Sinclair has been linked with a move back to his former club in south Wales, for whom he was a key member of their 2011 promotion-winning team, scoring a hat-trick in the playoff final against Reading that booked their ticket to the top flight.
Although his pay packet at City will have been handsome, the impact of this season on his value as a player is not so great.
A former England Under-21 international who also featured for Great Britain at last year's London Olympics, Sinclair has ambitions of a senior England call-up but in order for that to happen he needs to be playing regular club football.
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup, whose side entertain Mancini's second-placed side on Saturday, was open to the possibility of a return for their former player, who would surely shine at a mid-table club.
"We have to make some decisions when we start talking to people about what is possible and what is not. Because it is one thing having names on paper and another when you start talking about salaries, transfers and all that," Laudrup told reporters.
"But he [Sinclair] has quality and he has already shown it and we will see what decisions we make on that for the future.
"Good players in his position are always an option and he has a British passport which is another thing we have to look at in an overall perspective."
City can secure second place in the league over the next week and Mancini has pledged to give some of his second-string players the chance of some action.
"If we win tomorrow we can have the chance for the young players to play the last two games," he said.
That would come too late for Sinclair to make any meaningful contribution to the season and the promise to play his youngsters will almost certainly not extend to next Saturday's FA Cup final against Wigan Athletic at Wembley.comments