Just a matter of days ago, it seemed there was more chance of Claudio Bravo going a whole 90 minutes without giving the ball away than of Yaya Toure re-emerging at Manchester City.
Yet, one of the few notable aspects of the 2-1 win at Crystal Palace was the sight of the Ivorian rising from the ashes of his agent’s bitter dispute with Pep Guardiola and scoring a match-winning brace.
Toure is back. This should be excellent news, albeit if it’s being broken a little presumptuously.
To be precise, the 33-year-old is no longer in exile, and he’s had a decent game against an alright Premier League side who aren’t in the best of form.
Right now, though, the midfielder will take the little victories. Things haven’t been easy for him since Guardiola’s arrival, quite possibly because Manuel Pellegrini seemed to let standards slip in his final months at the club.
You can hardly blame the Chilean for that; if Guardiola was going to take his job mid-season, he could deal with the consequences of an unfit group of Sky Blues.
Samir Nasri was the most notable casualty of Guardiola’s fat camp. The Frenchman was booted out to Sevilla (where he’s actually doing pretty well), and Toure’s delicate temperament was again left exposed when he was told to lose weight.
Maybe there’s a reason they don’t buy him birthday cakes after all.
Goal have it that the former title winner shed an impressive eight kilos in his bid to impress his new manager, putting in extra shifts on the training ground and trying desperately to put last season’s injuries behind him.
It could explain why he didn’t want to leave City when offered the chance, as it may not be too late for him to reignite his career at the Etihad after all.
To the dismay of his loudmouth agent Dmitri Seluk, perhaps he is not at the forefront of Guardiola’s thining after all. The Catalan has made no bones about the fact that he expects 100% fitness from his players, with rumours of pizza and sex bans – presumably separate things – awash in the north-west.
It’s a remarkable backing-down from the manager, and it can only be to City’s benefit if Toure proves he is willing to keep it up.