Adnan Januzaj's frank account of his struggles to adapt to Louis van Gaal's tactics revealed the true extent of his fight for survival at Manchester United.
The Belgian is increasingly running out of time to convince the United manager of his qualities.
And despite Van Gaal's refusal to allow him to go on loan during the January transfer window, his long-term prospects remain unclear.
With United strongly considering a move for Everton's Irish defender Séamus Coleman, Januzaj could yet be offered in exchange for the former Sligo Rovers star.
Everton are interested in the 19-year-old, whose opportunities could be further limited beyond the end of the season.
He raised fresh doubts about his future when revealing his plight under Van Gaal.
Januzaj has been one of the main victims of the Dutchman's attempts to deploy 3-5-2 or diamond formations at United.
He has seen his opportunities limited by expensive recruits Angel di Maria and Juan Mata - and admits he has struggled to operate in his favoured positions as a winger or No 10.
"The system really can make it more difficult for me to play there, but I have to keep working," he said. "That is what I am doing in training every day, as I want to get more games this season.
"My favourite position is as a No 10 or a winger.
"There are lots of players here and I can play in different roles - it's just a case of taking my opportunities."
Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have been surprise successes for Van Gaal after being reinvented as wingbacks. But Januzaj has not fared so well.
"I'm not really a wing-back," he said. "It's harder for me because there is more defending involved and I'm not really a defender."
Januzaj's honest appraisal of his fate this season is refreshing.
What was surprising was the fact that his comments were published in United's own official programme.
Van Gaal has challenged him to prove he can be a part of his long-term plans.
And while the teenager was not critical of his manager's system, he made it clear that it has had a negative impact on his progress.
He added: "Of course, last year I played a lot of games and every week I was feeling better and better.
"I've not been playing a lot this year, but it's okay I will try to work hard in training and out on the pitch."
Moving forward, Januzaj could face further difficulties to establish himself as a regular in Van Gaal's first team.
By his own admission, he cannot operate as a wingback.
In a more orthodox 4-4-2, he is likely to find himself squeezed out by Di Maria and potentially Gareth Bale, who is among United's top targets in the summer.
There is fierce competition for the role of No 10 as well, with Di Maria, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata all vying for that position.
Januzaj's natural talent is not in question - rather his fate depends on Van Gaal's ability to utilise him effectively.
Failing that, United's manager is prepared to show the door to anyone deemed surplus to requirements.
Danny Welbeck was sold to Arsenal in the summer - and there will be no shortage of takers for Januzaj, who was one of the most sought-after young players in Europe little over a year ago.
Van Gaal's decision to block a move from Everton over the past month suggests he is still to make his mind up about the versatile forward.
But the clock continues to tick on his Old Trafford future.