In one respect at least, Leeds United know where they stand. Neil Warnock's team are seventh in the Championship thanks to a touch of Argentinian class from the penalty spot by Luciano Becchio, whose cool 42nd-minute conversion secured a hard-earned derby win.
In terms of where their club stand on the takeover front, however, the Elland Road fans are about as perplexed as poor Southampton in 1972 when they were tormented by the showboating Eddie Gray, Billy Bremner and Co. in the famous 7-0 here.
Negotiations between Leeds chairman Ken Bates and the Bahraini equity investment company GFH Capital are in a fifth month without an agreement. GFH have exclusivity to "lead and arrange" a takeover but Bates stressed yesterday that the purchase – understood to be for about £52m – was far from complete.
"The real problem is their lawyers, because this is a straightforward deal by anyone's standards," Bates said in an interview with LUTV. "By GFH's standards this is not a big deal, so Leeds fans don't blame me. I'd like to be able to say something but there is a confidentiality agreement which seems a bit one-sided. It makes it difficult to say anything. GFH want to complete a deal and we are happy to do a deal with them, but when last-minute things are slipped in it makes things very difficult."
Bates's prospective successor as chairman, David Haigh, GFH Capital's deputy chief executive, is a lifelong Leeds supporter. He said in midweek: "It's frustrating that we can't be open due to the confidentiality agreement."
However, an unnamed "company source" assured the Yorkshire Evening Post on Thursday that losses made by GFH Capital's parent company would not be absorbed by the football club, saying: "This is a 100% cash purchase. There'll be no debt for the club to service."
Funds for Warnock to spend on team building have also been promised. On this evidence, the cash is needed if the great promotion specialist is to win another graduation to the Premier League.
Leeds might have outclassed Everton in the Capital One Cup in their last home outing, but they struggled to get the better of a poised and purposeful Barnsley, who held sway for much of the first half but could not find a goal.
As it was, Becchio's classy touch claimed the spoils. When Lee Peltier was upended by Stephen Foster six minutes before the interval, the one-time Barcelona B team player scored from the spot with the coolest of dinks – his ninth of the season.
Leeds (4-4-2): Kenny; Peltier, White, Pierce, Lees; Byram, Austin, Brown, Tonge (Norris, 54); Diouf, Becchio (Gray, 72).
Barnsley (4-4-2): Alnwick; Stones, Wiseman, Foster (Hassell, h-t), Golbourne; Dawson, Perkins, Mellis, Cywka (Etuhu, 69); Davies, Harewood (Dagnall, 67).
Referee Darren Deadman.