Premier League clubs' spending in January topped £120million - well below 2011's record total of £225million.
Despite the imminent arrival of new riches in the form of the £5billion-plus TV deals that come on stream in August, there was generally more restraint among top-flight clubs.
QPR emerged as the biggest spenders, splashing out £22million, along with Liverpool and Newcastle. Both QPR and Newcastle were among the top-three spenders in January last year as well.
Analysts believe UEFA's financial fair play rules, which start to take into account club's finances from this year, and the likelihood of Premier League clubs agreeing to their own spending controls next week, have had an effect.
The picture is not as restrained as last year however, when only £60m was spent, but is below 2011, as well as the £170m in 2009 and £175m in 2008.
Dan Jones, partner in the sports business group at analysts Deloitte, said: "There were relatively few active spenders in the winter window, with over half of this January's total transfer spending coming from three clubs.
"Winter window activity tends to be driven by the on-pitch competition at the upper and lower ends of the Premier League table.
"Premier League clubs have been relatively restrained in their player transfer fee spending, in spite of the upcoming uplift in their broadcasting revenues of between £20m and £30m each from next season.
"Whilst the clubs' total spending was £120m, after taking into account transfer income, the Premier League clubs' net transfer spend was £70m.
"Clubs are now in a reporting period that will count towards the first assessment of UEFA's financial fair play break-even requirement for international competition and Premier League clubs are also considering the implementation of additional cost control regulation at a domestic level."