While the blue half of Birmingham is spending every waking moment calling for their banished England-striker to be restored to the international side, the other half is watching their own favourite son try to salvage something from the wreckage that has been the last eight months.
It is that long since the eyes of the world focused on Darius Vassell, as he cut a tearful figure having just skied the decisive kick of England's Euro 2004 penalty shoot-out, putting it deep into the Lisbon night.
He returned from Portugal, seemingly the only man that didn't consider what happened to him a nightmare, then took his place in the Villa side that started the current campaign with a barnstorming 2-0 victory over Southampton.
He scored the sort of poacher's goal that suggested he would finally become the 20 goal-a-season man David O'Leary craves but the optimism waned and was finally extinguished in late October when he broke his ankle in a Premiership match with Fulham.
Apart from a 30-minute reserve-team cameo last month, which resulted in the decision to undergo keyhole ankle surgery and a regression in his rehabilitation, he has not been seen since.
While Emile Heskey has been skittling top-flight defenders out of the way in the cause of Birmingham City, the only sight of Vassell has been on the club calendar.
Nevertheless, the 24-yearold, still burning with ambition, continued his comeback in the lonely surroundings of the Bescot Stadium last night.
Like a precious jewel incongruously perched on a Christmas cracker party hat, he adorned the Villa reserve team and looked every inch, all 67 of them, a class apart.
He didn't score in Villa's 2-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers Reserves. Stefan Moore and Stuart Bridges did that and there was nothing spectacular, just a solid 90 minutes proving that he finally has more than a tentative toe on the comeback trail.
The evening passed with a series of audible sighs, mostly the relieved kind whenever anyone or anything went near Delicate Darius.
The first came before kickoff when he was successfully removed from the cotton-wool casket in which he is kept these days. The second came as he completed the ludicrously-named warm-up, after which his hamstrings must have been as tight as guy-ropes in a gale. He even managed to sign a couple of autographs with the spectre of writer's cramp peering over his shoulder.
It took him ten minutes to get into the game and when he did it was to ride a couple of inquisitive challenges and lay-off the ball to a teammate. He scampered away as another sigh was released.
He didn't really see much meaningful action for the first-half, other than a few
scurries down the channels, but every member of a young Bolton side clearly knew who he was and stood off him with a reverence born out of the fear of embarrassment.
His second 45 minutes was a little more fruitful.
Midway through the period he gathered possession in midfield, spread play to the right wing and raced to the edge of the penalty area to hook a shot, under pressure, just wide of the Bolton goal.
The assembled eyes, a sight fewer than the 65,000 who watched the quarterfinal with Portugal, didn't follow the ball, they looked on - concerned - as he scooped himself off the turf.
With five minutes to go, he showed the pace that is his trademark to race away from a tiring visiting defence to close in on goal. Unfortunately, as he drew Andy Oakes in the Wanderers goal, his chip drifted past the same upright.
Not quite Vintage Vassell. Yet, although the fairy tale goal didn't come, Vassell moved one step closer to a happy ending and, who knows, a potential reunion with Emile Heskey when Birmingham City and Aston villa meet for the second derby of the season on March 20.