Carlos Tevez will return to Manchester City this morning but it appears inevitable his days as a Blues hero are now drawing to a close.
Whilst City insist they have no intention of selling their talisman and skipper when the transfer window opens next month, manager Roberto Mancini risks keeping a very disenchanted player on his books if he does force Tevez to stay.
Twenty-four hours after it became public knowledge that the 26-year-old Argentinian wants to leave, the rift between player and club only got significantly wider.
At the centre of the problem is Tevez's trusted advisor Kia Joorabchian, who City accuse of manipulating the striker, who in turn is furious at the assertion - and the attack on a man whose bond with him will never be broken.
It seems highly unlikely that Tevez will be asked to travel to Juventus for Thursday's Europa League tie but with his side just two points behind league leaders Manchester United, Mancini needs to resolve the problem before the fall-out impacts on what could still be a very successful season.
Mancini is carrying the backing of his club's supporters and management but the whole saga is going to need very careful handling, even if club legend Mike Summerbee is convinced of City's future direction, with or without Tevez as its inspiration.
"Bert Trautmann was a great player. Francis Lee and Colin Bell were great players. Bobby Johnstone was a great player," he reflected.
"They all left but this football club continued. The club will be there forever. It doesn't matter what the situation is.
"It is a bit upsetting it has got to this situation because he has been such a good player for us, but Manchester City will go on and we are only going one way. Upwards."
Amid the fall-out from revelations that Tevez had asked to leave City, it was claimed in a club statement that it is not their policy to conduct contract negotiations during the middle of a season.
The Tevez camp have responded by claiming to have proof City were doing just that, and they have an email offer of a revised contract which was sent at the beginning of October.
For their part, City have said that talks had taken place, but over peripheral issues such as image rights, rather than a central contract itself.
It merely adds to the state of confusion about a story which has shocked most City followers.
"It is a little bit upsetting for this to happen when things are going so well," said Summerbee.
"We are in such a good position and played ever so well on Saturday.
"That win in itself shut a few mouths because it proved we can survive without Carlos."