At this time of the year, it can feel as if the football programme is packed with rehearsals while the true drama lies weeks or months ahead.
There are players at both Manchester City and United with much to offer but that does not disguise a broader truth -- a place among the elite.
Torres and Carroll lend credence to the belief that January buys aren't good business.
United, after all, had been in reasonably good form and the talk following matches with lesser teams was often of regeneration.
As if it was not enough to win the Premier League title once again Manchester United insisted on staying ahead of the pack even in the closed season.
Pep Guardiola is one of the very few people in football who does not find his Barcelona side irresistible.
A Manchester United without Sir Alex Ferguson in charge feels as much an absurdity as, in the end, an inevitability.
Chelsea are deserved champions four years after they last lifted the English Premier League trophy.
As if they were not busy enough striving for trophies, the top four in the English Premier League have to deliver major stories as well.
Goals give a player authority. With his commanding drive that delivered a 1-0 win over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge, Didier Drogba played like a leader of the Chelsea team and also spoke like one afterwards. At present he has a higher status than at any point since he moved to England two years ago. The Ivorian knows that he has not so much hit a new peak as belatedly rediscovered his old self.