To this day, those involved will argue that it’s not their fingerprints on the signing of Giannelli Imbula.
He goes down as the club’s record signing at £18.3m and, given the club’s subsequent decline, he will remain their record signing for some time to come.
Signed after little more than impressing in a pre-season friendly against Stoke in the summer of 2015, he arrived the following January to much acclaim at a club seemingly going places.
Stoke were gunning for a regular top-10 place, maybe even a top-six slot, but history now shows they had already peaked.
And not least because of disastrous signings headlined by Imbula.
His first game might arguably have been his best because there is no question he impressed more than anyone in a 3-0 home defeat by Everton.
And given the appalling conditions, this was seemingly no fancy dan signing.
Sadly, it turns out he was. He had neither the temperament nor the desire to adapt to life at Stoke City and was pretty soon cutting an isolated figure.
One lost to the cause, an embarrassment for manager Mark Hughes to go with the many more coming his way.
Imbula’s record of just 23 league starts for the club says it all, as does the three subsequent and wholly unsuccessful loan moves to Toulouse, Rayo Vallecano and Lecce.
His last game for Stoke City was at Manchester City – a 0-0 draw as it happens – on March 8, 2017.
Yes, nearly three years ago.