Worcestershire have gone to great pains to point out that having a 'superstar' like Shoaib Akhtar in their midst is not the reason behind their recent decline.
But, against Somerset at New Road over the next four days, the sidelining of the the 'Rawalpindi Express' on international duty gives Shoaib's team-mates the chance to prove they might be better off without him.
Since beating Somerset at Bath in June, Shoaib's arrival in the country has coincided with four successive defeats that have sent Worcestershire spinning out of promotion contention in the County Championship.
After finally being available to play for the last two matches, Shoaib has showed the sort of form he was expensively lured here for.
Twice he bowled his side into winning positions, taking six wickets on the first day at Northampton, then another five when Northants came for the return at New Road.
But, having each time earned first innings lead as they have done in ten of their 11 Championship matches this season, Worcestershire ended up losing both. And, while that is primarily down to the continued collective failure of their batting, they have also been let down by Shoaib's efforts in the field.
Quite apart from the fact he has twice failed to deliver with the ball second time around, his on-field demeanour in the outfield has left a lot to be desired. His antics in the home defeat to Northamptonshire led to the ugly sight of skipper Vikram Solanki having to restrain one of his angered players on the pavilion steps. And it has helped cool tempers that Shoaib has been in South Africa this week representing Asia in three ICC-sanctioned, but little publicised one-day internationals.
"Inevitably with characters, you have the odd difficulty," said Worcestershire chief executive Mark Newton, "We are aware that, having a superstar stands him out as different to an ordinary cricketer and that he comes with baggage.
"But, while people have preconceptions, I personally have not found him hard to deal with. And, on the pitch, Shoaib has not been an issue.
"Look at the bowling averages. 14 wickets in two games at 17 each. It just goes to show that it is no longer bowlers who win matches. You still need your batsmen to score runs and ours haven't got enough."
Shoaib will miss not only the Somerset game, but also next Monday's rearranged National League date with Hampshire. And he might not be the only Worcestershire player missing today.
Vice-captain Gareth Batty will take over if skipper Solanki fails to recover from the broken thumb he suffered against Northants ten days ago, while Stephen Peters, fresh from his cameo role as a substitute fielder with England at Old Trafford last night, would win a recall.
The unlucky Jamie Pipe's lack of consistent batting form costs him his place for the second time in three games.
Teenager Steven Davies, who had found his form at opener after a ropey start before going off to play for the England Under-19s, has been recalled from international duty to keep wicket. But he will bat down the order at No 7 in a bid to strengthen Worcestershire's wobbly tail.
This is also Zander de Bruyn's last Championship game as he is due to return home for an A tour with South Africa on August 23. A replacement for the county's final month of the season is expected to be announced in the next day or so.