The single best thing Manchester City can do to improve its club in advance of the 2013-14 season is to be realistic about what they need and what they don't.
Even in what has been a disappointing season, City leads the Premiership in fewest goals conceded, giving up less than a goal per game.
After giving up at least one goal in each of the first six league matches, England No. 1 keeper Joe Hart has kept 14 clean sheets in his last 25 league starts.
Meanwhile, Hart's backup, Costel Pantilimon, is one win away from reclaiming the FA Cup for the Citizens, per the Daily Mail.
Probably best to leave the goalkeeping situation alone.
Similarly, City's defensive corps is deep, talented and experienced. Vincent Kompany is still an elite center back. Gael Clichy had a quietly excellent year. Pablo Zabaleta carried the team for stretches and Matija Nastasic announced himself as a building block defender after being an unheralded summer signing.
City's defense excelled this season even after seeing Micah Richards suffer a terrible injury early on and getting almost nothing from Joleon Lescott and Maicon.
Maybe best to leave the defense alone.
In the midfield, City addressed its greatest need not in the transfer market, but in-house. Yaya Toure's new contract (per ESPN.com) kept the Sky Blues from losing an asset it could not replace. David Silva is also playing under a long-term deal.
If the team can retain James Milner, the prime midfield players will remain in place. City can then take the money they will probably no longer be paying Samir Nasri and bring in one more upper-echelon midfielder. It also would not hurt to figure out what to do with Javi Garcia.
At the tip of the spear, Edin Dzeko looks likely to belatedly follow Mario Balotelli out the door and onto a team that will, er, properly appreciate what a great player he is. Whatever.
Dzeko leads City in goals this season, but losing Dzeko will certainly not do to City what, say, the loss of Robin van Persie has done to Arsenal.
Particularly since the likeliest splurge in the upcoming transfer market by any Premiership side is probably City on a big-ticket striker.
City defended as if they were invincible, but there were just too many listless, punchless City draws to keep United from running away and hiding on their way to the league crown.
If Manchester City can import some goals and resist the urge to over-tinker with a very solid roster, City will be back among the best clubs in Europe in 2013-2014.