MANCHESTER United fans can only pine for the days when a player like Denis Irwin would cost just £650,000 - less than a month's wages for Radamel Falcao - and help to deliver seven Premier League titles.
And despite a massive outlay on players like Falcao, Angel di Maria, Ander Herrera and Luke Shaw, former United great Irwin fears that the club will need to spend even more to get back to the levels they regularly reached in Irwin's time at Old Trafford.
"I'm sure the club will look at it in the summer when they take a step back but we'll need to invest in another few players, there is no doubt about that," says Irwin, who joined United from Oldham and won every major honour, bar the old UEFA Cup, in his time there. And Irwin reckons that this United side, and their manager, are still waiting to gel as a unit, though the former full back is impressed with the shape of the United defence these days compared to the start of Louis van Gaal's reign.
"There is no doubting in the first two months of the season, because of injuries or whatever, they were shipping too many goals. They've obviously worked on that and tightened up an awful lot," says Irwin.
"I can't remember the last time they conceded two goals in a match, you'll have to go back a long way. That's probably taken away a bit of the other side of the game going forward.
"Van Gaal said last week it's about getting the right mixture. Because when you look at the players going forward, it's fantastic, with players to come in, it takes a while to gel. It takes a while for foreign players to come in to get used to the pace of the league. Hopefully it will all come together. But at the moment you have seen consistencies, particularly away from home," he added.
"There's been a lot of ups and downs, particularly at the beginning of the season was tough for him. I think it's just the manager getting to know the players and the players getting to know the manager as a few new players have come in."
Champions League football was a given for most of Irwin's time there but now the side face a battle to qualify. "It's huge, it's the first time in a long time this year that it's been missed and it's not nice when you're looking in from the outside," added Irwin, a Champions League winner in 1999.
"The top teams in Europe are battling away and you're used to that. But the the priority this year is to finish in the top four and will be disappointing if we don't make the top four."