Steve Sidwell may like to offer Manchester United's midfield finishing classes. The Fulham captain's first-half goal in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford was Sidwell's sixth in the league which is double the total returned by United's starting quartet of Michael Carrick, Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young and Juan Mata.
For a journeyman midfielder single-handedly to outscore the champions' engine room two to one is the latest damning statistic in this season of ever deepening woe for United and their manager, David Moyes.
Until Carrick gave United a 2-1 lead on Sunday, the 32-year-old had yet to register in the campaign. Mata, who managed 20 goals in all competitions last season, has zero in three league games since joining and did not score for Chelsea in the league either, the same number as Fletcher (who has missed most of the season through illness), while Young has two.
Darren Bent's 94th-minute equaliser at Old Trafford means United have dropped 18 points on their home patch and they are 21 worse off than last season after 25 games, which is hardly Champions League qualification form.
Defending the title is a pipe dream as United are 15 points behind the leaders, Chelsea. The big issue is whether making next season's European Cup is also fast becoming fantasy as Moyes takes United to Arsenal on Wednesday night, with 13 matches remaining and the gap to Liverpool in fourth nine points. No team have ever made the Champions League with such a deficit at the same stage of the season.
If United lose at the Emirates and Brendan Rodgers' fast-improving side win at Fulham, then United will need Liverpool to drop 13 points, assuming superior goal difference, while also winning all their last 12 matches.
Deep down Moyes seems to have accepted that next season he could be leading United round the outposts of the continental game in the Europa League.
When quizzed on whether Champions League qualification remains possible, bullishness is absent. After the Fulham debacle he said: "We will do our best." Do United have to win at the Emirates to keep alive hopes of European Cup football next season? "We have to win all the games so you can ask me as many times as you like, I'll keep saying we have to win the games that are coming up and we should have won that one and we needed to as well," said Moyes.
The defensive nature of the response points to a manager braced for the tough questions as his side's predicament worsens with each outing.
There was another moment in his post-Fulham briefing when Moyes bridled. A record 81 crosses failed to claim the victory he was adamant United deserved. Yet, when asked if a change from the ploy Fulham's René Meulensteen branded "straightforward" could have yielded a win, Moyes insisted his approach was not one-dimensional. "It was never one way," he said.
Yet Fulham's Dan Burn, who played non-league football for Darlington, begged to differ. He offered a humbling assessment of the tactic. "I've never headed that many balls since the Conference," the 21-year-old said. "I'm happy for them to play like that. We knew that we were going to defend our box well. We were going to keep our back four quite narrow so that we were between the goal, and the wingers were going to look after the wide men. We've been working on that in training. I thought it worked well. They've had plenty of crosses, loads of chances and stuff but the second goal was quite lucky. I always felt we had something left.
"We knew that was going to happen – once we were dropping further back that we were going to get more compact and make them play around us because we thought we had the strength in numbers."
Despite Moyes' denial there is little question that the high ball into the area from out wide is a key plank of his strategy. The match against Fulham offers a microcosm of United's season. Adnan Januzaj was given 28 minutes as a substitute during which he put 12 high balls into Fulham's area, the joint-highest along with Young's contribution. Wayne Rooney, who as the side's playmaker might be expected to do most work in and around central areas, was forced out to the left and right to make 10 crosses.
These numbers are from open play, with United's overall crosses from their starting midfield quartet ending on 23. This compares with the paltry two made by Fulham, who, having arrived as the bottom club fighting for survival, were expected to be the less sophisticated side on show.
For Carrick the result remains a puzzle. "It's a tough one to take. It's hard to explain how we've only come away with a point. It was an incredible game, so one-sided," he said. "We played well for most of the game. We created opportunities but just couldn't score. We certainly had chances to go further ahead but, even so, we were so in control that letting it slip like that is criminal.
"I haven't been involved in a game like that in my career," he added. "It's so frustrating because we should have scored more. We're very disappointed to concede twice, considering the amount of time they spent in our half, never mind our box. It's one of those seasons – setback after setback – and we have just got to pick ourselves up. We have to believe that with performances, things are going to change."
The lack of goals from midfield and the United cross-fest offer two answers to the conundrum and that of the other poor results this season.