Manchester City have made an ominous-looking, 100 per cent start to the Pep Guardiola era.
The results mean few can argue with the ruthless manner in which the celebrated coach set about re-shaping one of football’s most expensively assembled squads.
A combination of new arrivals and the Catalan’s rigid faith in his own approach has meant several high-profile names have been shipped out on loan.
The cull means that over £100 million worth of senior pros now have a year to try and force their way back into the reckoning while playing elsewhere.
Which though, if any, have any hope of changing Pep’s mind?
Joe Hart – loaned to Torino
Few managers would escape questioning after dropping England’s number one goalkeeper and a man who has spent a decade in goal for Manchester City.
Guardiola’s stock is so high however, that he has certain immunity to over-analysis when he makes the big decisions.
Joe Hart: "The history of goalkeepers in Italy is known everywhere. I am sure I will learn in Torino, too." pic.twitter.com/fir1ttH4qx
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 1, 2016
Perhaps English football has been blinded to Hart’s failings and it has taken the arrival of a top foreign coach to make everyone think again.
Guardiola likes his keepers to be comfortable with the ball at their feet and Hart’s passing stats have been picked over with a fine tooth comb in the last few weeks.
Perhaps it has been his shot stopping, for so long his forte, that has had the City coach think twice – especially after a poor showing at this summer’s Euros.
The England man probably realises his time at the Etihad Stadium is over for good but with all of Europe’s top clubs well equipped in the goal keeping department, Torino at least, offered opportunity for a change of scene.
Wilfried Bony – loaned to Stoke
In a strange way Bony seems the most likely to make a success of his loan deal but at the same time the least likely to make Guardiola reconsider.
It’s well known that the Ivorian can score bagfuls of goals in the Premier League when in a team that suits him and one that gives him the right kind of ammunition.
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) August 31, 2016
Stoke could well be that team. The 27-year-old was prolific in his Swansea days when the side was built around him but has struggled ever since his £28 million move to Manchester.
Stoke though are crying out for a bustling centre forward to add to the array of creative attacking talent already at Mark Hughes disposal.
Bony has every chance of becoming prolific again at the Britannia Stadium this term but he is simply a player that does not suit the Guardiola blueprint and therefore very unlikely to go back.
Samir Nasri – loaned to Sevilla
Unlike the others in this list Nasri at least managed to feature, albeit briefly, at the start of Guardiola’s reign.
He got 15 minutes in the home win over West Ham before joining Sevilla on loan.
Nasri publicly said this week that his new boss had urged him to stay and fight for a place in the team and the substitute appearance would at least suggest that Guardiola considers the player might have something to offer in his long-term project.
— Sevilla Fútbol Club (@SevillaFC) September 1, 2016
You get the impression though that whether or not the Frenchman features for City again will depend on his own attitude and desire rather than the manager’s appraisal of his attributes.
Guardiola openly criticised the player’s fitness during pre-season and it seems to have been a while since the 29-year-old was in decent form in the Premier League.
Despite his talent, he will need to apply himself diligently to win a place in the Sevilla team first before he can have any designs on lining up alongside Aguero and co.
Eliaquim Mangala – loaned to Valencia.
Mangala followed Nasri to La Liga to provide defensive cover at Valencia following the departure of Shkodran Mustafi.
The big centre-back found himself quickly slipping down the pecking order at the Etihad following the arrival of John Stones.
— Valencia CF (@valenciacf) August 31, 2016
The sight of Aleksandar Kolarov also stepping into the heart of the City backline might have left the big Frenchman wondering just how far he is from the first team.
His career in Manchester to date has been blighted by injury but when fit his performances have ranged from imperious shutouts to calamity own-goals and daft red cards.
Even if the former Porto man can use this season in Spain to prove he can deliver consistency, It may well be a question of style that determines if he can return to his parent club and become part of the manager’s plans. At 25 though, he at least has time on his side.