So Memphis Depay, having fluttered his eye-lashes in Liverpool's direction, signs instead for Manchester United.
The sense of an old script being recycled here will be unavoidable to supporters of the Anfield club, now the clear market leaders in heel-dragging negotiation.
Depay is said to have met Liverpool's representatives at Manchester airport two weeks ago, triggering an epidemic of media speculation that he would be Brendan Rodgers' marquee summer signing.
The bookies, pointedly, chose to disagree. They kept the Dutchman at odds-on figures to go to Old Trafford, surmising that Louis Van Gaal (his former national boss) and Champions League football would, ultimately, be a stronger attraction to Depay than any slow-burn draw towards Merseyside.
More than that, they surely understood Liverpool's recent history with high-profile targets like Diego Costa, Willian, Mohamed Salah, Christian Eriksen, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, not to mention Alexis Sanchez.
Liverpool's recurring failure to get business done is costing them. Had Sanchez signed, his goals would almost certainly have given them another shot at the title. Instead they were reduced to an August panic buy of Mario Balotelli and the comedy within.
Looks like the penny still won't drop.