Ruben Loftus-Cheek was again forced to watch on from the stands as a potential chance to impress in a Chelsea shirt slipped through his fingers against a heavily squad-rotated Manchester City.
Yet, far from another missed opportunity, the decision to leave him on the bench may well have represented a job well done by the Blues as they attempt to pull off an audacious transfer hustle.
For seasons the sizeable Englishman has been lauded as the prospect most likely to end the wait for a home-grown first-teamer that dates back to John Terry’s rise to Stamford Bridge stardom.
After being granted his first Premier League start against Liverpool at the back end of 2014/15, it had seemed that his ascent to regular starter was in progress.
However, despite Chelsea mounting the worst top-tier title defence since Leeds followed victory in the 1991/92 season with 17th the following year, he has still played just four top-flight games this term.
Two of those were 89th-minute substitute appearances, while the sole start among the quartet saw him hauled off at half-time against Aston Villa, with Jose Mourinho concerned Loftus-Cheek was not offering enough in the effort to defend against what continues to be the division’s worst attack.
Nemanja Matic’s form nosedive should have created the perfect situation for the youngster to elbow his way into the first-team reckoning, yet still the starts have not been forthcoming, with John Obi Mikel usurping him in the deep-midfield hierarachy.
It’s hardly the way a club would be expected to treat a player regarded as the future bedrock of their side, especially one that is four months away from the last year of his contract and supposedly on the radar of Manchester United, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.
Could it not be that instead, the Blues, fully aware of the limitations of Loftus-Cheek’s abilities, are involved in a stage-managed campaign to sell the prospect for as much as possible?
After all, his displays for the side to date, while accomplished for one so young, have been far from earth-shattering in terms of dynamism.
In an era when home-grown talent is sold at a premium with clubs eager to meet UEFA quotas, it suits Chelsea not to allow the reality prolonged first-team exposure engenders to intervene with the hype surrounding a prospect on which they might just be keen to cash in on.