Birmingham City last night started the process of clearing the decks for a spending splurge in the January sales by agreeing the cut-price return of Walter Pandiani to Spain.
Blues are reportedly set to make a big loss on the Uruguayan striker by accepting a bid of less than £1 million from Espanyol.
It is believed to be an improvement on a pre-Christmas offer by Real Mallorca but recouping so little of their £3 million investment in Pandiani is a huge disappointment, after he was signed on loan in the small hours of January 31 2005 before a more permanent deal was set up in August.
Like Christophe Dugarry before him, Pandiani's second coming to St Andrew's has proved to be a huge flop.
That the Blues board are prepared to cut their losses is also a dramatic demonstration of their continued faith in manager Steve Bruce, who intends to start 2006 with some much-needed spring-cleaning up front.
Blues have scored only 11 goals in 17 Premiership matches this term, only ahead of Everton with nine. Blues sold Robbie Blake and Clinton Morrison in the summer and Pandiani's impending departure leaves Bruce with only two strikers, Emile Heskey and Mikael Forssell.
Blues might attempt to persuade Andrew Johnson to return from Crystal Palace but Bruce is yet to be drawn on who his likely targets might be.
He said: "We could do with someone with a bit of pace, who's a little bit different but there aren't many. Who are you realistically going to get?
"There is always a need to strengthen your squad. We know the size of it and we know it might not be healthy having so few strikers, but we've also got David Dunn and Jiri Jarosik who can play as a second striker."
Using Jarosik to play just off Heskey has looked promising in recent weeks.
The Czech international scored in successive matches before Christmas but Blues are not taking their chances. Heskey's sole league goal in four months does not reflect his overall contribution as a target man.
Moreover, Blues' other £3 million summer investment, Forssell, has looked a pale shadow of his former self. That has further highlighted Pandiani's struggles, in contrast to the impact he made when he arrived.
After scoring 12 minutes into his debut against Southampton in February, he netted four goals in 12 games, displaying the sharp-shooting skills that earned the tag of the 'Tilton Rifle'. He has started in only six of his 14 league appearances this season, however, scoring only once.
Bruce said: "I'm not going to criticise Walter. He was excellent last season and gave everybody a huge lift and I bought him in case anything happened to Emile. Noone thinks of that scenario. Pandiani's best games have actually been when Emile hasn't played.
"He's a good footballer and I thought he would get better the longer he was here bt unfortunately it hasn't quite happened."
* Wolverhampton Wanderers have signed Hungarian midfielder Denes Rosa on an initial deal which will run until the end of the season.
He will be ineligible to play until the turn of the year, assuming international clearance arrives in time.
Rosa, whose previous club was Ferencvaros, won nine caps for his country before joining Wolves on trial this month. He has put pen to paper on a six-month contract, although Wolves have the option of extending the deal for an extra two years.