Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini might have hoped Robin van Persie would be leading his attack in Monday's derby against Manchester United.
But instead the Italian must focus on prolonging the normally prolific Dutchman's uncharacteristic barren spell as City aim to make a point in the eagerly-anticipated Old Trafford clash.
Mancini openly admits Van Persie was his prime transfer target last summer but he lost out to United in the battle for the then Arsenal star's signature.
Mancini has since described the 29-year-old as the main difference between the sides and, by implication, the chief reason why United have reasserted themselves after being beaten to the title by City last year.
Van Persie has not scored in his last nine United appearances but the damage has already been done with his 19 Barclays Premier League goals helping propel his club into a near-impregnable 15-point lead.
Mancini said: "We hope it will be 10 games. I don't know (the reason for the scoreless run), he is a top player. He can score in every moment in every game.
"This can happen to every striker, you can score every game for 20 games then after that for five, six, seven games you don't score."
Van Persie is not completely out of sorts with his deflected strike seeing off Sunderland last week while he was also on target three times for Holland last month.
His remarkable output since his £24million move from Arsenal - 23 goals in his first 31 United appearances - has highlighted City's own weaknesses in front of goal.
City have found the net 55 times in their 30 league games, 17 fewer than at the same stage last season and 15 less than United's current total.
Sergio Aguero bagged 30 in all competitions alone last season but this time has struck just 13 times in an injury-hit campaign. Carlos Tevez is the top scorer with 16 but, after a bright start, he endured a quiet patch before hitting his latest hot streak of seven in six games.
Mario Balotelli, who scored 17 last term, managed just three before being sold in January while Edin Dzeko has also weighed in with 13.
Mancini said: "The difference is that we have scored 20 goals less than last year - only this difference.
"The goals we have conceded are the same - we have the best defence.
"We are missing only these goals but we have had a lot of injuries. We lost Sergio, we lost Mario.
"This is probably the difference, the goals we didn't score."
With the title seemingly out of reach, City are focusing on securing second place and claiming a second FA Cup triumph in three years.
Aside from last season, City have not finished as high as second in the top division since 1977.
They go into Monday's game buoyed by a 4-0 thrashing of Newcastle last weekend, when it seemed the pressure of the title chase had been lifted.
Mancini said: "I think we did a good performance against Newcastle, we played very well.
"It was not easy because Newcastle are a good team, they have good players. I think we did really well.
"I don't know if we will play like this against United, the derby is a different game.
"But we want to get second place. We want to go there to try to win."
City are close to having a clean bill of health with right-backs Micah Richards and Maicon, who have both been sidelined with knee problems, the only players definitely ruled out.
It remains to be seen whether midfielder Jack Rodwell, out with the latest in a long line of hamstring injuries for the past month, is fit to return.