Dublin's quest to retain Sam Maguire has been rendered all the more difficult by the loss of "perfect wing-back" Jack McCaffrey, according to former boss Paul Caffrey.
McCaffrey's bombshell decision to opt out of inter-county football is the latest setback in a season of surreal complications for Dessie Farrell.
And Caffrey believes the four-time All-Star will be a huge loss as Dublin chase a delayed All-Ireland six-in-a-row in November and December.
"If you were picking the top five present Dublin players, out of the whole squad that's available, Jack McCaffrey is definitely in the top five," he declared.
"It's immeasurable how much of a loss he's going to be. He's one of your first names on the team sheet and, because a lot of this year's championship is going to be played in Croke Park, he's one of those guys whose skill-set gives him a huge advantage playing in Croke Park."
The Dublin management yesterday declined to comment on the story, which broke on Saturday night.
But Caffrey, a Na Fianna clubmate of Farrell's, pinpointed just what Dublin will now be missing: his ability to break hard against blanket defences, to read the game and to come up with "hugely important" scores.
"Look, it's just made Dublin's task a little bit more difficult. Obviously it's an opportunity for someone else to step up but, having said that, every day that Jack McCaffrey was fit in the present climate he'd be on the team sheet," Caffrey said.
"As a general fan of GAA, the games will be a little bit less when Dublin are playing without Jack. Even people outside of Dublin got a lot of pleasure out of watching him," he added.
"I would have seen Jack coming all the way up and he was a star, at minor and U-21 level, because he had an uncanny ability - he was nearly faster on the ball than without it.
"But in latter years his actual ability to defend improved so much that it made him a complete all-rounder, and he was the perfect wing-back in the modern game."