Manchester City started what seems certain to be life without Mario Balotelli with a frustrating goalless draw at Premier League bottom club Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.
Balotelli was missing as he concluded the details of his move to AC Milan after City had accepted the Italian club's reported $30 million offer for the striker earlier in the day.
And without the controversial forward, Roberto Mancini's champions missed out on the chance to close the gap on leaders Manchester United to two points.
But the draw left QPR within four points of safety.
Balotelli's departure this month has been predicted for some time and the Italy international has been out of favour with Mancini, scoring just one league goal this season.
But the 22-year-old's unpredictable talents might just have made the difference in a stalemate at Loftus Road that will give west London club QPR hope they can avoid relegation.
Harry Redknapp's side remain unbeaten in the league since the turn of the year - although the manager's claim he needs reinforcements before the end of the January transfer window was illustrated by his decision to name two goalkeepers among his substitutes.
Before kick-off, Rangers saw Anton Ferdinand join Turkish club Bursaspor on loan while Rob Hulse moved across London to Millwall.
Redknapp, though, believes he needs to add significant quality to his squad, particularly after the weekend FA Cup humiliation at the hands of third division MK Dons when the performance of an under-strength side prompted the manager to label the display 'disgusting'.
Aston Villa's fortunes continued to plunge as they sank into the Premier League's bottom three following a 2-1 loss at home to relegation rivals Newcastle United.
Goals from Papiss Cisse and Yohan Cabaye put the visitors 2-0 up after 31 minutes and despite a valiant fightback sparked by a Christian Benteke penalty, Villa saw their run of league games without a win extended to seven.
Defeat further complicated life for Villa coach Paul Lambert, who had seen his side eliminated from both the League Cup and the FA Cup by lower-league opposition in the last week.
Newcastle, meanwhile, ended a run of five matches without victory as Alan Pardew's side climbed to 15th in the table.
Meanwhile, Wigan moved out of the relegation places on goal difference after pulling back a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 at Stoke.
Sunderland and Swansea played out a goalless draw.