For Neil Warnock, the Sheffield United manager, the recent international break offered the chance of a trip to New York to see Barbra Streisand perform. Stuart Pearce, his Manchester City counterpart, stayed in England but found time to take in concerts by The Stranglers and Stiff Little Fingers, either side of a visit to the Horse of the Year Show. Each occasion must have been more entertaining than Saturday's Premiership match at Eastlands.
At a glance, it might appear this was a typical away performance by a recently promoted side - plenty of men behind the ball and ambition extending no further than a goalless draw. But if a team was to blame for a generally poor match it was City. Lethargic until the final stages, and hampered by substandard contributions from their strikers, Georgios Samaras and Bernardo Corradi, their performance gave repeated encouragement to the visitors.
United improved as the game went on and produced chances of sufficient quality and quantity to suggest their failure to score away from home will soon come to an end. Rob Hulse's overhead kick that struck the bar and Alan Quinn's drive that flashed just over were arguably better opportunities than any City created.
"We just needed to be a bit quicker when the chances arrived," said Warnock. "But nobody else has scored here [City's defence remains intact at home this season] so we're not the only ones. I think we now know we can give teams a game and get points. We've got to go and try and win games - if we get beat we get beat."
This new, relaxed Warnock is a stark contrast to the figure previously cast in the role of pantomime villain.
"I am calmer," he said. "We can lose every week and it's not my fault. And I'm also calmer because I think we're a good team so I can sit back and let them do the performing."
Pearce also thinks he has a good team, though showing it consistently, a perennial shortcoming, is proving as problematic as ever. "I would like us to take the good things from a performance and build on them in the next game," he said. "But we seem to have to go back to square one every week.
"In that respect I don't think the break did us any favours but as much as it would be easy for me to say we deserved to win, we didn't do enough and a draw a was a fair result."
Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Richards, Dunne, Distin, Jordan (Miller, 46); Trabelsi, Hamann (Reyna, 58), Barton, Sinclair; Samaras, Corradi (Dickov, 70). Substitutes not used: Schmeichel (gk), Johnson.
Sheffield United (4-5-1): Kenny; Bromby, Jagielka, Davis, Armstrong; Gillespie, Tonge, Leigertwood, Quinn, Kazim-Richards (Webber, 71); Hulse. Substitutes not used: Morgan, Kabba, Kozluk, Nade.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Bookings: Sheffield United Jagielka.
Man of the match: Hulse.
Attendance: 42,192.Reuse content