Any hopes of Carlos Tevez rescuing Manchester City from their striker crisis look certain to be dashed.
City have until 6pm tonight to respond to Emmanuel Adebayor's violent conduct charge in relation to an alleged stamp on Arsenal striker Robin van Persie at the weekend.
Even if the Blues decide to contest it, the action seems sure to prove unsuccessful given referee Mark Clattenburg has confirmed he would have sent the Togo star off for the challenge had he seen it clearly.
It leaves Adebayor condemned to spend Sunday's Manchester derby at Old Trafford in the stands, along with Robinho, who has already been ruled out with an ankle injury.
With Roque Santa Cruz and Benjani Mwaruwari also missing, Tevez's recovery from a knee injury suffered on international duty with Argentina 10 days ago was crucial for Mark Hughes' chances of fielding an orthodox strike partner for Craig Bellamy.
But, while City are prepared to give Tevez every opportunity of facing his former club, assistant manager Mark Bowen fears the worst.
"The signs are not encouraging," Bowen told http://www.mcfc.co.uk.
"We wouldn't 100% rule him out yet - fingers crossed and we are always hopeful, but it's very doubtful."
Although Hughes will be able to bring in Martin Petrov to play on the left, with Shaun Wright-Phillips taking up a right-sided berth against the champions, having Bellamy as a lone striker is hardly ideal for a club eager to confront United on an equal footing after winning their opening four games.
Yet unless there is a startling resolution to the Adebayor case, that is exactly what is going to happen.
Once Clattenburg confirmed he did not see the Togo forward's challenge on Van Persie at Eastlands last Saturday, and would have sent him off if he had, it was always highly unlikely Adebayor would escape punishment and a three-match ban covering games against United, Fulham and West Ham seems sure to follow.
In addition, he has been charged with improper conduct for his ill-advised goal celebration which could yet bring a fine, but probably another suspension given the FA seem keen to ensure there is no repeat of an incident that caused consternation at Greater Manchester Police and drew stinging criticism from Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore and FA counterpart Ian Watmore.
The FA said in a statement: "We have asked the GMP and the clubs to identify those supporters involved in any violent and aggravating behaviour. The FA would like to see anyone found guilty of such behaviour face action through the legal system and banning orders from football.
"The FA would like to thank the Manchester City FC stewards for the way they managed a very difficult situation and to pass on sincere best wishes to the steward who was injured during the game.
"We will continue to work with the LMA and PFA in particular to help remind players of their responsibilities, especially in highly charged situations."