Manchester City turned up to the shop a little late this summer, arriving to find the best stock already sold.
Adding to the purchase of Everton's Jack Rodwell weeks earlier, City spent close to £40 million in the waning hours of the transfer window, bringing in Swansea's Scott Sinclair, Fiorentina's Matija Nastasic, Inter's Maicon and Benfica's Javi Garcia.
But the players that boss Roberto Mancini missed out on are sure to weigh heavily on his mind if his club fail to replicate the domestic successes of last season.
As a result, with the exception of Javi Garcia, it could be said that Mancini failed to bring in anyone who will simply stroll into the starting lineup.
In bringing in Rodwell and Garcia, he's addressed the most pertinent need heading into the offseason—that of reinforcing the defensive/holding midfield position, but perhaps hasn't secured the type of world class talent that he has in the past.
It would be too easy to suggest that Bayern Munich's bank-breaking signing Javi Martinez would have been the ideal type of player for City—the Blues were clearly trumped by an unprecedented offer from the German giants.
Little could be done regarding Roma's Daniele de Rossi too, someone who has seemed destined to be a one-club player for years now.
But the fact remains, the Blues hesitated and paid the price for it come August 31.
There is a great difference in the quality of the players they targeted at the beginning of the window and of the players they eventually got.
Maicon will struggle to displace a fit Micah Richards, as will Sinclair behind Samir Nasri and David Silva. Whilst it goes without saying that Nastasic will be back-up to Joleon Lescott and Vincent Kompany.
In total, City's net spend for the summer was less than newly-promoted side Southampton's.
So what does this mean for their season?
Even without the marquee signings that we're used to seeing, the Citizens still have arguably the strongest squad in the Premier League.
The only difference is that last season there was no "arguably" in it.
After all, merely reinforcing—stocking up the bench with more talent—is hardly improving in the same way that Chelsea and United have.
This is likely to fuel the already tense relationship between Mancini and Administration Officer Brian Marwood—an internal conflict that can do the club no good.
In expressing doubts over the lack of spending earlier in the summer, Mancini told reporters, "For me we have a good team. But we need to continue to improve" (via Goal.com).
It was later reported that he was threatening to quit if such high profile names didn't arrive (via Daily Mail).
Whereas last season it was Mancini's neck on the line, it seems that with Premier League silverware on his shelf, the Italian manager is now in the driving seat for his future.
Perhaps the best piece of business the club has done since the beginning of the year is to have mended its relationship with the enigmatic Carlos Tevez.
His early season form has had as positive an impact as new signings Hazard and van Persie have had at Chelsea and United.
Make no mistake about it, City will be in the mix next May—they have too much ability not to be.
But unless Mancini makes a more significant splash in the winter transfer window in January, he runs the risk of letting a certain staleness creep into his side's form this season.
Or to put it another way—he has stood still whilst those around him have made significant strides forward.
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