The most disappointing aspect of Manchester United's defeat to Crystal Palace over the weekend was that it all seemed so predictable.
Ahead of kick-off fan favourite Patrice Evra described the transfer window inactivity like 'deja vu', the performance which followed had a worryingly sense of familiarity about it as well.
Crystal Palace's win at Old Trafford was thoroughly deserved after such a dominant performance, but the main issue for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is that many of their faults looked like they wouldn't simply be solved just by new arrivals.
United were lethargic, out of ideas and totally outplayed by a side which finished last season as the second-lowest scorers in the Premier League. Having Jadon Sancho on the right wing wouldn't have made much difference while the team played as poorly as they did.
"You can talk about Jadon Sancho all you like," Gary Neville warned after the match. "But until they get a centre-back in that can run and defend one on one, you're never going to win the league. They have to get a mobile, quick, dominant centre-back in alongside (Victor) Lindelof or (Harry) Maguire."
His words of warning sent supporters into overdrive as they hammered the defensive pairing which featured in all but three of United's league matches last season. Even with such frailties they kept nine clean sheets in a rejuvenated run of 11 games during the last campaign, and were solid enough to cement a third-placed finish.
However, you're only as good as your last match, and it was one of the very worst home displays Old Trafford has seen in the modern era. As a result of such a horror show both Kalidou Koulibaly and Dayot Upamecano soon began to rise up the social media trends, but Solskjaer might have a different solution in mind.
“Don't forget Eric Bailly,” Solskjaer told MUTV last week. "He missed up until February and missed more than half of the season. But he came back stronger and stronger and, towards the end of the season, he looked really strong.
"So I think we’ll see a lot of Eric. He’s looked really strong in training as well.”
Bailly was absent for much of the last campaign following a serious knee injury in pre-season which limited him to just 11 appearances across all competitions. The Ivorian only managed one start in the Premier League but proved he still has a lot to offer in the game as he put in a fantastic display as United defeated Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. Solskjaer is clearly a big fan.
United are open to signing a new centre-back if the right opportunity comes about in the final fortnight of the window, but it makes little sense to sign anything other than a clear world-class option while the defensive ranks are already clearly overstocked.
Axel Tuanzebe only managed two Premier League starts in an injury-plagued campaign, Chris Smalling looks set to move to Roma, Phil Jones started just twice in the league and Marcos Rojo once.
Solskjaer is a fond admirer of Napoli defender Kouliably, who he regards as one of the very best in the world, but hopes of signing Upamecano have already been hampered by RB Leipzig's refusal to sell this summer.
Teden Mengi's indefinite promotion to the first-team is fully deserved given his performance level in training late last season, but it again indicates United might very well finish the summer window without any new additions at centre-back.
United will likely need to break the bank if they really want to bring a clear improvement to the defensive line, and therefore Solskjaer might well hope a fit Bailly can be like the new signing he so desperately needs. It would be an almighty risk.