Robbie Savage was nowhere to be seen at St Andrew's on Saturday but he still managed to exacerbate a dispute between Birmingham City and Blackburn Rovers.
Precluded from playing for Blackburn against Birmingham because of a "gentleman's agreement" between the clubs, Savage would have savoured the attention - even if he was not able to enjoy it at first hand.
Savage has become the subject that will not leave St Andrew's and Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, was frustrated that talk of the player overshadowed the 2 - 1 victory against Blackburn.
Bruce and his Blackburn counterpart, Mark Hughes, were team-mates for Manchester United in the 1990s but their relationship has been tested by the chasm that has grown between Birmingham and Blackburn.
Karren Brady, the Birmingham managing director, claimed that there was the safety aspect to consider given that Savage had aroused much emotion from Birmingham supporters for leaving the club so controversially last January.
Hughes, however, said that Birmingham wanted Savage out of the match solely because it would weaken the Blackburn team. Bruce refutes the claim.
"It is nothing personal [against Hughes], it is just the job we are in," Bruce said. "I played with Mark for ten years and now we are in charge of our respective clubs. But we were badly treated by his football club over Robbie Savage. Full stop.
"We had an agreement, although the first I knew about it was when he [Hughes] gave me a call. But why should we agree to anything if that is what was in place? I told him 'Mark, if that's the agreement, then that's the agreement.' Why should I change?
"We did the same with Mikael Forssell that he would not play against Chelsea and the same with Salif Diao with Liverpool, so what is all the fuss about? As far as I am concerned Robbie Savage is gone, is history, water under the bridge, and I am not going to give the story any more substance.
"But if you want to get figures and ask Karren Brady what the extra police bill and all the rest of it would have been; we were quoted somewhere in the region of £50,000 extra if he [Savage] had played. Now, if that's not a safety issue . . ."
The problem, of course, is that Savage will have to play against Birmingham eventually and that time is unlikely to heal any wounds. As Hughes points out, the problem has been transferred to when the teams meet at St Andrew's next season.
"We are an honourable club and we felt Birmingham would have given us the opportunity to play Robbie, but they did not want him to play," Hughes said. "They [Birmingham] threw in the security issue, but that was not the reason he was not allowed to play. It was purely a football reason.
"I phoned Steve to see if he would be okay with Robbie playing, but Steve did not really want him to play. He said it was a decision the clubs had come to and he would abide by that. From his point of view, he was not going to agree to him playing.
"I thought it was an opportunity to put everything behind both clubs and to move on. Come next season, we will still be talking about the situation."
Birmingham's victory officially confirmed their Premiership status for another season and it allowed Robbie Blake the chance to remind supporters of who he is.
It was Blake's goal on the hour mark that put Birmingham back in the match after Jonathan Stead had given Blackburn the lead. Blake scored with virtually his first touch after emerging as a substitute. It was his second goal since a £1.25 million move from Burnley.
"Robbie has probably not had the run in the team he might have hoped for," Bruce said. "But he will have his chance, that's for sure. If not this season, then the next, because he has ability and he has always got a goal in him."
The winning goal, by Emile Heskey (pictured left celebrating with Mario Melchiot), was further proof to Bruce that the England international striker was, at £6.25 million, a bargain buy.
"What he took last summer [the criticism] was unjustified. He has done fantastically well for us all season," Bruce said.