Vincent Kompany has admitted defeat in his agonising battle with injury and is pencilled in for a foot operation that is certain to rule the Belgium international out for the start of the Premier League campaign.
The classy anchorman was forced to return early from City's high-intensity training week in Bavaria and manager Mark Hughes is resigned to losing his services in a bid to solve the problem of Kompany's nagging toe injury.
Painkilling injections and specially-adapted boots became the norm for Kompany in the second half of the campaign until even the tough Belgian had to hold up his hands and stand down for a spell towards the end of the season.
The City boss, who puts a high value on his versatile capture from Hamburg, admitted: "The likelihood is that he will need a procedure. If he has to have an operation Vincent will miss the start of the season.
"We sent him to a consultant surgeon at the end of last season and he recommended injecting the toe and giving him six weeks' complete rest, but he was suffering the same amount of pain again in training in Germany.
"He's been back to see the surgeon now. We hoped the rest would cure it but it's a bit more complex than that. It's important that we address it now and make sure Vince is fit for the rest of the season."
Hughes regularly saluted Kompany's grit last season as he insisted on crashing the pain barrier to turn out.
City's boss said: "We nursed him through to the point where he had to concede that he just couldn't carry on. He had numerous needles into the joint but he stuck with it bravely. He did really well for the team."