After returning to the team for Athletic Bilbao earlier this week, Ander Herrera found himself back on the substitute's bench.
The Manchester United target has had a mixed time in terms of his form this season, with the Red Devils' early season interest cited as a distraction.
Herrera played in Bilbao's win over Getafe and draw against Elche in midweek, but when it came to Sunday night's big game with Atletico Madrid he was dropped by manager Ernesto Valverde.
Herrera was an unused substitute as fifth place Bilbao allowed Atletico to climb 13 points ahead of them via a David Villa and Diego Costa inspired 2-0 win.
The midfielder had been told in no uncertain terms by the club's president Jose Urrutia to concentrate on his football after United's unsuccessful pursuit, but his rotation in and out of the side can't be helping.
He also had to deal with a diving controversy against Getafe, where he admitted after the game that he tried to con the referee.
Herrera had to deal with a minor hamstring injury over the international break, but his return to full fitness saw him called straight back to the first team before being dropped this weekend.
He was substituted off just 58 minutes into the midweek 2-2 draw at home to Elche, with the away side 2-1 up at the time.
Summer signing Benat came on for him, and did enough to keep his place for the loss to Atletico Madrid.
If Manchester United were hoping to be convinced over the time between the transfer windows, that they should go back in for him, there is not a huge amount of positive news to report.
Herrera has played at the attacking tip of a midfield three in each of his appearances, but has no goals and no assists in eight starts.
Bilbao have said they will not negotiate below his 36m release clause, which is a serious amount of money for United to pay. If they were willing to front it up at the end of the summer, famously leaving it too late, it is certainly borderline as to whether they should revisit.
If a player is so easily droppable, and three substitutes brought on while he sits on the bench as happened on Sunday night, it begs the question as to whether he is really the game-changer Manchester United need.
image: © birasuegi