Stuart Pearce still expects Joey Barton and Sylvain Distin to be part of his squad at Manchester City next season - but the Blues boss has revealed any serious summer offer for either man will be put to the player directly.
Pearce spent two hours with City chief executive Alistair Mackintosh last Friday, examining how the club's cash flow affects his bargaining power in the transfer market.
Although it was more a factfinding mission than anything else for the inquisitive City manager, he emerged from his meeting with Mackintosh knowing exactly what he already knew. His summer budget for new recruits will be slim.
So, while Pearce is determined to retain Barton and Distin, who are both yet to sign the contract extensions which were offered earlier in the season, or at the worst, keep the pair until their present deals expire in 12 months' time, the reality of the situation may be different.
'I want the likes of Joey and Sylvain to stay work with me at this club,' said Pearce. 'It is a fantastic club to work for and we pay good wages, not peanuts.
'I expect them to stay and I think they will. As far as I am concerned, if they say they don't want to extend their contracts that is fine, they still have another year to go.
'But I do know there is a point where the paths between football and finance cross. And I understand the financial constraints of the club because I made it my business to find out.
'If we get an offer for any player, which we deem to be serious, we will put it to the player.'
The problem for Pearce is that, having been given less than half of the £21million paid by Chelsea for Shaun Wright-Phillips last summer, he may find himself working to the same percentages should City end up accepting a big-money bid for Barton or Distin, currently two of the most valuable assets on the Blues playing staff.
Finding replacements of comparable quality with such a limited budget would represent a stern test of Pearce's bargaining skills. To bring in better players appears almost impossible, although that is exactly what the former England skipper has pledged to do.
'I am responsible for the results at this club, which is why it is so important to keep our best players,' he said. 'If I lose some, I have to deal with it, but I have to do so in such a way which allows us to keep moving forward.
'So, if players go out, I don't need to bring in ones of equivalent standard, I have to get better ones.'
For a couple of worrying weeks, it appeared as though the City hierarchy might have been in the same position as Pearce was touted by some as a potential successor to Sven-Goran Eriksson.
At the time, Pearce insisted he was too inexperienced to come under consideration, although Football Association chief executive Brian Barwick was interested enough to have at least one chat with the patriotic former defender.
With Luiz Felipe Scolari now believed to be on the verge of having his appointment confirmed, Pearce could come into contention for some kind of coaching role.
In theory, it is an opportunity which would attract the City manager. In practice though, time constraints may not allow it.
'You have to be open-minded if you got the opportunity to work with someone with a massive CV who you can learn a lot from,' said Pearce.
'I am sure he will want his own men in there but it might be the case that he wants someone to work with him, as Steve McClaren has done with Sven-Goran Eriksson.
'I wouldn't rule it in and I wouldn't rule it out but the one thing I do know is that this job takes a lot of my time and the rest I spend with my family.'