David Moyes has warned Manchester United fans not to believe the club's problems can be solved during the January transfer window.
After the debacle of the summer, when United's only significant signing turned out to be Marouane Fellaini - who passed up £4million in bonuses to shove through his move from Everton on deadline day, having been available for much less than the eventual £27.5million fee earlier in the transfer window - supporters are expecting much better things second time around.
Leighton Baines remains a target, while a deal to sign Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao may be revisited even though the midfielder has not had the best of seasons.
However, Moyes is looking long term. And his plans go far deeper than spending cash in a single transfer window to deal with short-term issues like the present injury problems.
"This club is always thinking long term," he said.
"I am thinking how are we going to have a side that is going to be competing in the Champions League and right at the top end of the Premier League in four or five years?
"It has to be a continual building process and we will continue to look to do that.
"You couldn't change it all around in any one window anyway.
"It takes maybe two, three or four windows to do that."
It is why talk of a massive January spending spree may end up being wide of the mark.
"To make January sound as if that would be the place where everything would be cured and any problems would be resolved would be wrong," he said.
"It is not me saying we are not going to sign any players in January.
"We are going to try to, if the opportunity is there.
"But it has to fit the right criteria. If it doesn't we will have to wait until the summer and see if we can get the players then."
The good news ahead of Sunday's trip to Cardiff is the availability of Danny Welbeck after a knee injury kept him out for five weeks.
Nemanja Vidic's return from concussion may be delayed a little longer, while Michael Carrick (Achilles) and Phil Jones (groin) are definitely out as Moyes prepares to face fellow Scot Malky Mackay, who once accepted an invitation to visit Everton for some managerial advice.
"Like I did with Sir Alex Ferguson if I needed a bit of advice when I was younger, some of these lads have come to me thinking I am experienced and old," Moyes said.
"I feel as if I have the experience now but I certainly don't feel old, that's for sure.
"Nevertheless, if I can be of any help to them, I will. Hopefully, that is what I did when I was at Everton as well."