Manchester City have been far too naive in the transfer market since building their first Premier League title winning squad. It's a team which still remains, has reached its peak and gone far past it. So much so that it's become a problem. Serious work needs to be done.
With Monday night's loss to Crystal Palace, City's defence of their title is dead and buried. Y'know, even more than it was before. Nine points behind the leaders, who have a game in hand over them. It's not the worst title defence in recent times - that dubious honour has to go to United last season - but it's been pretty limp from a previously all-conquering team.
The end is nigh for Manuel Pellegrini. But for the current Manchester City boss, if the men above are to pull the proverbial trigger on his Etihad reign this summer, he'll have only himself to blame.
The players are exhibiting a freedom and style to their play which had been alarmingly truant during the ill-fated spell of Gerardo Martino. Much to City's angst and trepidation, Barcelona have rediscovered that way of winning which makes racking off five or six goals on an afternoon's work curiously insouciant.
Disproving others' low opinions of him has been a regular feature in Milner's career to date, helping him to where he is now - a soon-to-be out-of-contract midfielder, playing for the current champions of England, with a host of probable admirers.
Accustomed to watching their side roll over teams at home week after week, the City fans were again left in shock after a spirited Newcastle performance sent Pellegrini's men crashing out of the cup at only the second time of asking. There were no excuses for a crestfallen City.
Assuming Real Sociedad's interest in Ings is genuine, it's something the England Under-21 striker should seriously consider. Rumour has it that both Liverpool and City are monitoring the soon-to-be free agent closely, but if history is anything to go by, he should avoid the bright lights of Lancashire's two biggest cities at all cost.
The most telling moment this season at Anfield wasn't when he was dropped from the squad - registering just 34 minutes of football in 2015 at the time of writing - nor was it the time he was slammed by boss Brendan Rodgers for swapping shirts with Pepe at half-time. It was, typically, something that happened off the pitch.
Current league holders Manchester City should not be surprised if on January 31 they meet a Chelsea team that plays both freely because it is relieved of some pressure and angrily because it feels that the world is responsible for its defeat at the hands of Bradford in FA Cup.
As much as it's always claimed that anybody can beat anybody in the Premier League, that's never true over the course of a full season. It's part of what makes league competitions so much better in many ways than cups - it's entertainingly open from week to week, while still ensuring that the winning team at the end of the season is almost always the best one.
Barca are the bookies' favourites for the tie by some margin, but they may have it wrong. City have had their slump, this is the resurgence. Is it time for them to finally explode onto the European stage? Don't bet against it.
Chelsea and City are currently out in front by a large distance and are understandably favourites to take the crown, though contrary to popular belief, this year's Premier League is not yet just a duel between the two teams in blue.
What have I read, what have I learned, what have I proved to myself, that's what I want to know. Not about the random highs, but the necessary and sustained lows. Not about the chaos, but about the easy order of silence. Bloody 'ell I sound like a Vulcan. But no, seriously, my point is, I think 2014 has made me a better artist.
Manchester City won their second Premier League crown last term, but are already playing catchup in this season's title race after a string of poor results over the first three months of the campaign. But the current City team isn't alone in melting under the pressure when it comes to defending the title, with several spectacular examples over the years.
Guardiola will be in high demand whenever he decides to move on from Bayern Munich, but the irony is that for precisely the same reasons he was given the opportunity to manage Barcelona, he may well end up getting overlooked for the job at City.
It's back - the greatest club competition on the planet and the 2014/15 season promises to be one of the most exciting yet... the draw for the group stages has just taken place and the excitement surrounding how the English clubs will fare this season is paramount. Let's take a look at who they'll be up against...