AC Milan's sluggish start to the new Serie A season sparked a wave of speculation over the future of favourite son and head coach Gennaro Gattuso.
Three straight competitive victories have since provided a measure of calm, but an unwanted result in Sunday's derby with Inter could give rise to more discussion regarding the club's current direction.
Defeat would leave the Rossoneri seven points adrift of their city rivals and pile the pressure back on Gattuso, whose managerial experience is dwarfed by cross-city rival Luciano Spalletti, as well as Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri and Carlo Ancelotti at Napoli.
Milan, now guided by former players Leonardo and Paolo Maldini, are not short on options should they seek a change, with the five men below all boasting compelling credentials.
"I can't think of Antonio Conte or who will arrive," Gattuso replied in September when asked if the spectre of the man persistently linked with his position was affecting his work.
It is difficult to think the incumbent will not have paid at least a passing thought to the former Juventus and Italy boss, whose availability after an acrimonious split with Chelsea seems to have instigated the uncertainty over the Milan hot seat.
Conte's return of three titles in as many seasons with Juve makes him an attractive prospect for any Serie A side, and he would perhaps offer a level of tactical maturity the more inexperienced Gattuso cannot yet match.
Should they covet his services, Milan might have to make a move sooner rather than later, given Real Madrid are reportedly keeping the 49-year-old in mind.
2.14 - Antonio Conte averaged 2.14 points per game as a manager in the Premier League; only Sir Alex Ferguson (2.16) and Pep Guardiola (2.34) have averaged more in the competition's history (min. 10 games managed). Ciao. pic.twitter.com/UuI7atnlVD— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) July 13, 2018
If Gattuso is not working out, why not turn to a man at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to experience and appoint the stately, and still unemployed, Arsene Wenger?
Wenger was touted as an option soon after Milan's recruitment of Ivan Gazidis as chief executive from Arsenal, where the pair worked together for almost a decade.
The decorated Frenchman this week revealed he would be ready to return to work in January after receiving offers "from all over the world", with Bayern Munich and Madrid both mentioned as possible destinations.
7 - Arsene Wenger has won the FA Cup seven times, more than any other manager in history. King. pic.twitter.com/yziojNGbFZ— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 20, 2018
If the derby does turn sour and elicit a rash response from the Rossoneri hierarchy, Roberto Donadoni could provide a safe pair of hands to stave off further instability.
The 55-year-old former Milan midfielder left Bologna in May with his reputation generally enhanced from a three-season stay, having previously spent a similar stretch with Parma.
Donadoni's failures in charge of Italy and Napoli do cast some doubt over his ability to handle grander responsibilities, but his ties to Milan are as strong as those making the decisions.
Milan's prolonged absence from the Champions League has robbed them of the glamorous sheen that Zinedine Zidane could certainly replenish.
No available head coach knows as much about winning in Europe than Champions League specialist Zidane, while the prospect of proving he is capable of claiming silverware without a readymade squad could intrigue the ex-Serie A star.
His bond with the Bianconeri makes the idea of a union with Milan complicated, but Zidane clearly has the insights that could turn a team rippling with unrealised potential in genuine contenders.
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Patrick Cutrone and Franck Kessie are among a crop of young talents at San Siro that suggest a bright future lays ahead.
Leonardo Jardim, suddenly on the hunt for a new project after diminishing resources at Monaco undermined his plans, has a proven skillset attuned to fast-tracking that kind of group into unexpected title winners.
Kylian Mbappe was the pin-up boy of the entertaining Jardim side that toppled Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 and captured Europe's attention in 2016-17, achievements that will have not gone unnoticed by the movers and shakers within the continent's top clubs.
|Warriors drop Hawks as Green serves suspension|
|In-form Healy sends Australia into semis|
|Former NBA star McGrady says Carmelo Anthony should retire|
|Celtics´ Smart: We have to look at ourselves in the mirror|
|Federer plays down preferential treatment talk|
|Mourinho is better than Guardiola – Maradona|
|Mbappe plays down Pele comparisons|
|Don´t worry bro – Mendy responds to Trump|
|Melvin, Snitker win manager of the year awards|
|Warriors´ Green suspended for Hawks clash|
|Asensio: It´s not for me to lead Madrid|
|Rooney ready to enjoy England farewell after pressure of ´Golden Generation´|
|Ludwigsburg stun high-flying Murcia in BCL|
|Rams v Chiefs moved to LA due to Mexico City field conditions|
|Skriniar discussing new Inter contract, confirms agent|
|Former Barcelona boss Martino named MLS Coach of the Year|
|Bell fails to report to Steelers, will sit out rest of season|
|Federer back on track after dismal Thiem display|
|Udinese appoint Nicola after sacking Velazquez|
|Monaco deny they broke rules regarding youth recruitment|
|Del Bosque, Zidane, Lopetegui - The former Castilla coaches Solari follows into Real Madrid hot seat|
|Ozil rejected ´crazy offers´ from Asia, reveals agent|
|Real Madrid appoint Solari on permanent basis|
|LeVert avoids need for surgery, should return this season|
|Neuer confident despite concerns over Bayern Munich form|
|All I ever wanted to do is win, says Sixers signing Butler|
|Pogba: Coming home to United was the best feeling ever|
|Watson among four signing new Bath deals|
|Susanna Dinnage to replace Scudamore as Premier League chief executive|
|Murray commits to Brighton until 2020|
|Rooney rejected chance of pre-World Cup farewell|
|Impressive Anderson thrashes Nishikori|
|Ozil´s Germany absence a ´pity´, says Sane|
|Rooney: I´ll finish my career in the US|
|McIlroy unsure of 2019 European Tour membership|
|Australian Open dismisses concerns of Federer scheduling bias|
|Hue Jackson joins Bengals staff as ´special assistant´|
|Real Madrid confirm Reguilon injury|
|Higuain handed two-match ban for Juve meltdown|
|Kruis ruled out for England as Jones calls up uncapped quartet|
|A year on from Italy failure, Ventura leaves Chievo after four games|
|Bairstow misses out as unchanged England promote Stokes|
|Recalled Alba denies Luis Enrique bust-up|
|´Unhappy´ Christensen won´t push for Chelsea exit|
|Nadal to make Abu Dhabi comeback in December|
|Taijul helps Bangladesh tighten their grip despite Taylor ton|
|Neymar joining Real Madrid wouldn´t hurt Iniesta|
|It´s just team spirit - Livingston not worried by Durant-Green exchange|
|Trippier out of England squad with groin injury|
|Ex-Sri Lanka international Lokuhettige charged by ICC|
|Former England and Chelsea star Joe Cole retires|
|Nets offer support to LeVert following serious leg injury|
|Panenka proud Sergio Ramos imitates his penalties|
|Liverpool´s Alisson seeks patience to reach potential|
|Anthony Davis leads Pelicans, Clippers hold off Warriors in OT|
|Lindelof rues international break for Man Utd|
|Shaqiri confident in more goals for Liverpool|
|Giants too good for 49ers in crunch time|
|Southgate named honorary Yorkshireman|
|Nicky Butt: Manchester United are low on confidence|
|Criticism of Barcelona star Dembele is overblown - agent|
|Thibodeau discusses Butler trade: We thought this was the best deal for us|
|Acuna, Ohtani win rookie of the year awards|
|LeBron James on Lakers’ early season struggles: ‘I almost cracked’|
|Welbeck has successful second operation on broken ankle|
|UEFA warns FFP cases can be reopened based on ´new information´|
|Foakes to keep England place for second Test|
|WATCH: Rooney looking sharp in England training return|
|Mbappe: Money in football is truly indecent|
|Djokovic back to brilliant best as Isner is beaten|