Manchester United's alleged interest in signing Burnley striker Danny Ings on a Bosman free transfer this summer epitomises just how far the Premier League giants have fallen in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era.
Never before have the Red Devils been linked with such a low-profile player, whose recent notoriety comes off the back of a relatively impressive three-month spell in England's top-flight with the Clarets.
Ings' impact has been magnified by the fact he's playing in a struggling side, and although he deserves credit for his recent goalscoring run, there's no evidence to suggest that the 22-year-old's current form is anything other than a flash in the pan.
In fairness to the England U21 international, he's delivered enough decent displays to prove he is capable of cutting it at the highest domestic level, but you'd have to be pretty ballsy to claim with any certainty that Ings has the required quality to lead the line at Old Trafford for many years to come.
For that reason it's somewhat surprising to see the Daily Telegraph reporting on Thursday that Louis van Gaal is considering an offer for Sean Dyche's leading marksman at the end of the season, upon the expiry of his contract at Turf Moor.
The Burnley man might have caught the Dutchman's eye during Wednesday's 3-1 defeat against Manchester United, but that is surely not enough to tempt the 63-year-old into transfer action. If it is, then Red Devils fans should be seriously worried.
There's no doubt that Ings outplayed both Robin van Persie and Radamel Falcao at the Theatre of Dreams in midweek. However, the under-performing pair have set a very low precedent with their constantly poor performances in 2014/15.
If Van Gaal's sole purpose is to recruit someone that's played better than either of those two then you couldn't rule out the possibility of Manchester United signing pretty much any striker that currently plies his trade in the top division.
Van Persie does have ten league goals to his name - and scored from the penalty spot against Burnley - but any supporter that's watched the Dutchman closely will tell you he's a fading force in the modern game.
Falcao, meanwhile, has netted just four times in all competitions since joining on a season-long loan from AS Monaco. Based on what the Colombian has produced so far Manchester United would be mad to make his move permanent.
The fact neither Red Devils striker managed a single shot in the first hour highlights how ineffective they were against Burnley, and begs the question why Van Gaal continues to play Wayne Rooney in midfield.
Manchester United's captain is the club's second top scorer in the Premier League this season with eight goals, but since being played out of position he's not managed a single shot on target so far in 2015.
A return to his favoured centre forward role is surely the most obvious short-term solution, before re-entering the transfer market in the summer to sign a suitable partner for Rooney in attack.
Ings still has a lot to prove before he can be seriously considered to lead a new-look front line in the future. And anyway, a club of Manchester United's size and stature should be setting their sights much higher when it comes to identifying their next marquee addition.
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