For a time last summer it looked as though Tom Cleverley would have to make do with a place among the Manchester United substitutes - or perhaps in the stands - after a loan move to Aston Villa appeared to fall foul of the deadline-day clock.
But after a few doubts it was revealed that the midfielder's move had been agreed in time and the 25-year-old set about proving to Louis van Gaal from afar that there was a future for him at Old Trafford.
So far this season Cleverley has made 13 appearances for Villa, playing all but 39 minutes of their Premier League campaign since his arrival. So how has he done?
There is a feeling among many Villa fans that he has not done anywhere near enough, and yet Cleverley has improved in four key areas when you compare this season's form to last.
Last season at United, the England international averaged less tackles per match and less duels per match than in the current campaign, while this year he is also playing considerably more key passes per appearance and averaging slightly more forward passes.
|Season||Passing Accuracy||Goals||Goal Assists||Interceptions Won per Game||Tackles Won per Game||Duels Won per Game||Key Passes per Game||Forward Passes per Game||Mins Played|
At United, Cleverley was accused of playing too many easy balls, taking the sideways option instead of the killer pass, and while it is now one-and-a-half seasons since he recorded an assist in the league (a telling stat in itself) he is at least setting up more goal-scoring opportunities at Villa Park.
United reportedly have the option of recalling Cleverley next month - something they are unlikely to do - while Villa are said to have the option to make the loan move permanent.
Again, this seems unlikely for now, for the midfielder can at least point to some improvements in his game. The trick now is to rediscover the goal-scoring form he showed in previous loan spells, when United fans believed they had a future star on their hands.