It says much about tonight's combatants at Goodison Park that, as the transfer window deadline approaches, David Moyes will be sweating on a bid of no more than £5m for Rangers' Croatia striker Nikica Jelavic, while Roberto Mancini's angst will centre on whether a player who earns that in seven weeks can be shipped out.
The move for 26-year-old Jelavic is by no means sealed, despite Rangers' parlous financial state, which means more responsibility may yet be taken on Everton's onward journey by a far lesser-known striker, who was the source of identical deadline day agitation last September. It went to the wire then before Denis Stracqualursi was signed from Tigre on a season's loan, having failed to impress Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester.
The omens did not look promising when the Argentine arrived at the end of a summer in which the £2m sale of Ayegbeni Yakubu to Blackburn, the initial £2.5m paid by Leicester for Jermaine Beckford and Arsenal's £10m for Mikel Arteta contributed to revenues of £30m, of which Everton's bank saw more than Moyes. But in Stracqualursi's goal and his contribution in Friday night's 2-1 FA Cup win over Fulham there was evidence of that old Moyes power of alchemy.
Stracqualursi had been top scorer in Argentina last season. "So we thought, 'There's a bit of something there, we're not paying anything for him, why not have a go?'" Moyes related yesterday. "We said, let's take the gamble."
Moyes had a feeling that the 24-year-old might make his mark in the busy Christmas period. "In training he looks like someone who can nick a goal," he said, and it is the effort he puts in on the field of Finch Farm that makes the manager so effusive. "What he has got is great heart, great effort. He has worked like a Trojan and never looked sideways at anyone. "
That is the way Moyes moulds players, of course – witness how Joleon Lescott advanced with him after seven years at Wolves. Moyes appears finally to have forgiven City the pursuit of the player which so damaged the club, though his desire to remain an impediment in their quest for world domination is very evident in City's one-in-five record against him. Tonight he has the chance to exploit what he feels is a dip – small but telling– in City's form.