The sight of £15m wunderkind Wilfried Zaha looking on gloomily from the stands as Manchester United beat Liverpool 1-0 in the Capital One Cup will be hard to fathom for anyone that saw him drag Crystal Palace through the play-offs last season.
As David Moyes seems to be at loss for a reason or way to blood the England youngster – 19/10 to score at any time against West Brom in the Red Devils’ next outing – here are some suggestions on both counts.
Why to play Wilf
Their 4-1 opening-day mauling of Swansea aside, United are low on goals this season and in Zaha they have a maverick talent within their ranks who is capable of producing game-changing moments of skill when others are short of inspiration.
During his time at Crystal Palace he went through whole games where he was virtually impossible to tackle, but there were most often crosses at the end of his teasing sorties down the right flank.
Eight assists were served up in 2012/13, as well as countless more chances that may have been converted by more positionally-shrewd colleagues.
Furthermore, the unique fashion in which he uses his wiry frame to retain the ball under duress begs the question which United player can match him for dribbling ability?
When to play Wilf
Surely the League Cup would have been an ideal opportunity for a cameo appearance from the bench at the very least and if not then, the visit of his former club Crystal Palace was a great chance to give the youngster some minutes.
His speed on the ball and ability to take pressure off teammates with trickery makes him an ideal substitute when his side are trying to see out games and he could easily get more than one marker sent off over the course of a campaign.
The Ivory Coast-born winger can also be disciplined defensively, as he showed in his man of the match performance when Palace defeated United at Old Trafford in the 2011/12 League Cup quarter-final.
How to play Wilf
In the Championship opposition sides would routinely double-team or even triple-team Zaha to negate his sway on a match and feeding him for mazy dribbles on the wing would suck in overloading defending players, creating space for creators like Wayne Rooney centrally.
He also acted as the decisive breaking player in Palace counter-attacks and was the first man to be fed the ball when the Eagles’ defence had won it back.