Once again the club have not spent money that is readily available and put profit before the team
So, after all the evaporating rumours, the most tantalising transfer deadline arrival for Arsenal concerned a teenage goalkeeper from the lower divisions in Macedonia. Apparently Dejan Iliev is a fine prospect but as a means to compensating for the loss of Alex Song and helping to offset the immediate problem of scoring goals in the absence of Robin van Persie, it is like focusing on a mouse when there is an elephant in the room.
Yet again Arsenal conclude their summer business surrounded by justifiable concern that the coffers have been strengthened and the squad weakened. Yet again Arsène Wenger finds himself defending his decisions, having to stick up for one of the few regular Champions League clubs who post an annual profit, and open to mounting pressure if results do not back Arsenal's chosen way of doing things.
For whatever reason – and those reasons are increasingly difficult to fathom – the club have not spent the money that is readily available to make improvements. Only the other day Wenger said it was a "miracle" that his team finished third last season. Perhaps the trick this time will be the parting of the Red Sea.
Does he not get sick of the accusations? Of having to be on the defensive? "No, no, no," Wenger retorts. "We have to live with the opinions of people. I can accept that. It's not the most enjoyable part of it. The enjoying part is to be on the football pitch. I live with the opinions of others, whether they are right or wrong."
The trouble is, what is on the football pitch is linked to public opinion, and Arsenal are once more giving off the impression they are not ready. Sometimes Wenger must feel like he is renovating a house whose roof bows the moment he has just finished polishing the floorboards, yet once the roof has been fixed a window breaks, and once the window is repaired the electrics blow. Arsenal are in a state of perpetual reconstruction.
This is the third successive season that Wenger is having to redraw not just the personnel but also the strategy of his team. The season before last they were a team moulded around the specialist skills of Cesc Fábregas. Last term they were geared towards Van Persie. Now, again, Wenger must re-cast his side, discover a new method to get the best out of the ingredients at his disposal. Two scoreless draws into the campaign, he admits that they are still a work in progress, but is positive that everything will soon fall into place.
"I think we can click very quickly because we look a team on the pitch at the moment, we look a team who is ready to fight together," he says. "We have not scored, we are not completely at our best going forward, but I think that will happen very quickly."
Naturally, Wenger has to be optimistic. The month ahead looks daunting, with six games in three different competitions, including Premier League duels with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, and an international break. After an underwhelming start, the click really needs to happen fast.
Although Arsenal rallied to recover from a dismal start last season as a newly assembled team slowly found its rhythm, relying on another game of catch-up is a high-risk tactic. Wenger is well aware of the pressures that will bear down on them if the team, now speared by three newcomers, in Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, needs a good deal more time to develop some chemistry.
The idea is for goals to be shared around, rather than the responsibility mainly shouldered by one man. Wenger confesses he felt "strange" watching Van Persie wheel away after a typically brilliant strike in the red of Manchester United. "I must say it was a fantastic goal," he says. "What was a bit strange to me was that unfortunately he had the wrong shirt on. Why is he jumping around in a shirt like that? I don't know ... I do know, but I don't like it too much.
"Of course if I had a choice I would prefer to keep Van Persie. But you know if you lose a player who scores 30 goals, there are not 100 in the world who can score 30 goals per season in the Premier League, that is for sure. So you have to find another solution. To rebuild, that's exciting as well."
Although the front section of the team is still taking shape, there has been evidence of some productive work at the back. The influence of Steve Bould in organising the defence, and instilling more resilience, was notable at Stoke last Sunday, where, for once, Arsenal did not show even the slightest wobble. A much more ambitious opponent in Liverpool on Sundaywill be a fascinating test of their improved resolve.
Memories of last season's meeting will resonate for both teams. For Arsenal, it is a reminder of how vital it was to have a master goalscorer in such hot form it felt as though he could score with his eyes closed. For Liverpool, it was an example of that demoralising habit of putting an opponent on the ropes, miscuing jab after jab, and then getting knocked out by the sucker-punch.
Wenger could do with pulling off a similar surprise this time around.