Manchester City didn’t need any substitutes for Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley.
The match at Turf Moor had been dominated by Pep Guardiola’s decision to name only six replacements on the bench.
With City spending over £200 million on their Elite Development Squad, some commentators queried why no youth players were deemed good enough to be included in the matchday selection. What, they argued, was the point of a youth team if it wouldn’t be used?
Guardiola has got every decision right this season but he got that wrong.
It won’t stop them winning the title come May, though, and the absence of a sprightly youth prospect could not explain his side’s failure to win a match that had been there for the taking.
In a game that will do little to dent hopes of a quadruple, here are five things we learned.
1 Sterling still has value
Raheem Sterling has been completely reinvented under Pep Guardiola.
The Englishman has already scored 19 goals in the campaign so far, just four less than Sergio Aguero, with his excoriating dribbles and cute finishes proving too much for the Premier League’s defences.
On Saturday, however, he had a shocker, fluffing a number of presentable chances, including an open net.
He was substituted in frustration by his manager but Guardiola denied that he was being punished.
“That is football,” he told reporters after the game. “It can happen”.
One bad game does not a super season wreck. Guardiola needs Sterling to keep performing the way he is.
He might have been wasteful on this occasion but he is still one of his manager’s most important weapons.
2 Dyche defies the flood
Burnley were in horrific form going into this game.
They might have been in seventh place but the Clarets hadn’t won any of their last eight fixtures, with manager Sean Dyche spitting out his worms in disgust.
In truth, although they lucky to have gotten a result from this game, Burnley looked worth a draw.
While City were totally dominant in the early parts of the game, Dyche's side did not simply sit back and seek to absorb pressure but pushed forward in a bid to score.
When Berg Gudmundsson volleyed in a late equaliser, it was hardly against the run of play and will have only frustrated Guardiola that Sterling missed his chance moments before.
Dyche will be hoping his team can disregard the performance and build on the result.
3 Danilo flatters to deceive
Danilo had a difficult time at Real Madrid. After starring as a marauding right back for Porto, the Brazilian was supposed to keep Dani Carvajal out of the team at the Santiago Bernabeú.
Instead, the Spaniard consigned him to the bench, with a litany of mistakes leading Merengues fans to lose faith in the new recruit.
A move to City this summer was meant to prompt a renaissance, but Danilo has been merely a squad player behind Fabian Delph and Kyle Walker.
Their form has restricted him to fleeting appearances but Danilo advanced into the Burnley half well on Saturday to score an excellent curling strike that gave his side the lead.
Unfortunately, however, he was caught out of position several times by Burnley forwards, who exploited his lack of match sharpness.
On this performance, he should get used to sitting on the bench.
4 Lennon singing again
Aaron Lennon has endured a traumatic 18 months.
Football fans across the country were delighted to see him make a first full start since joining Burnley in January and the former Everton man performed well in this game, providing some much-needed pace on the flanks.
Rightfully, he drew a lot of praise for having the bravery to discuss his mental health issues.
Claret fans, however, will be looking forward to his on-field contributions. There was enough here to promise that he'll be a key player in the second half of the season.
5 Kevin de Bruyne is the new Johan Cruyff
Although his side failed to capitalise, Kevin De Bruyne continues to dictate games around the country as Manchester City march on unrelenting to what much surely be a league title.
What is most odd about the Belgian is how unobtrusive a figure he strikes on the pitch, his tousled red hair and slightly inauspicious pot-belly giving the impression that he is a schoolboy having a kick around.
In that respect, he deserves parallels with the Dutch master, Johan Cruyff whose ability to exploit space and damaging efficiency on the football field were offset against the fact he didn't look like a footballer.
This wasn't one of De Bruyne's best games in a Manchester City shirt but, even still, he was the best player on the pitch. We may become tired of this admission by the time the season is over.
Agree with our suggestions? Get in touch by commenting below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?