Birmingham City manager Alex McLeish insists he has not lost ground to his rivals as the Premier League prepares itself for the annual scramble for bargains in the January sales.
While Steve Bruce, the Scotsman's predecessor at Blues, bemoaned the fact that Carson Yeung's faltering takeover left him hamstrung in the transfer window, McLeish has taken the opposite stance and claims he has already been able to start his planning.
The former Scotland manager confirmed that he would like to bring in at least two players to underpin Birmingham's bid for top-flight safety and while he is unsure exactly how much money he will have to spend, he revealed he is looking to generate some by off-loading defender Martin Taylor.
The unwanted centre-half has returned from a loan spell with Norwich City and has been told he can leave St Andrew's if an appropriate offer comes in.
McLeish also says he will have a better idea of the financial parameters within which he must operate if and when Yeung misses the December 21 buyout deadline set by the club's existing owners.
But whoever much he has to spend he was clear on the fact he has begun his assessments of Blues' weaknesses and if he can't afford to buy players outright he will look to agree loan deals.
"I don't think we are behind," he said. "I am aware that in January it is sometimes not productive bringing players in but we could be doing with one or two - there is no doubt in my mind about that. There could be some wheeler dealing, we have got to look at every method of doing it. If it's dealing then I've a fair bit of experience doing that.
"I have never had a big pot of gold so I can't really say but having a big pot can sometimes be difficult because then there is more pressure on you to get things 100 per cent right. But I knew the situation when I signed, the board explained it. We have got to ensure anyone we bring enhances the quality."
One player who won't be arriving is Lyon and former Aston Villa striker Milan Baros, though McLeish refused to be drawn on the likelihood of moves for Everton's James McFadden or Rangers' Kris Boyd.
He confirmed speculation that Taylor would be allowed to leave the club - just six months after signing a new three-year contract.
"I have spoken to Martin and he is down the pecking order," he said. "I have said if the right club comes in for him it will be time for him to move on.
"He has done well for Norwich, he has helped them climb off the bottom of the table with his performances.
"There are one or two interested in Martin. His agent and Martin himself are weighing those up. Queens Park Rangers are in the hunt, they are in negotiations with [chief executive] Karren [Brady]."
McLeish's first task will be to convince Arsène Wenger that Johan Djourou's immediate future is better served with Birmingham than back at Arsenal. The defender's loan arrangement terminates at the end of the year but McLeish is waiting for a response from Arsenal about extending it for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately the Swiss international is doubtful with a pelvic problem for tomorrow's match with Reading and that could see the back four that started against Newcastle United last Saturday remain the same.
One player who will not appear this weekend is Mehdi Nafti who is suspended. That could mean a first league start in eight months for Damien Johnson.