It is not so long ago that David Moyes looked to have stumbled a formula that could keep Sunderland afloat this season.
With Victor Anichebe and Duncan Watmore playing in support of Jermain Defoe, the Black Cats finally had a good balance between defence and attack, results steadily improving.
Watmore's running and pressing was crucial, but the influence of Anichebe was clear.
His strength on the left wing and ability to hold up the ball was a crucial release for players not creative on the ball, allowing Sunderland to get up the pitch and ensure Defoe wasn't left isolated.
It is no surprise then, that Anichebe's injury has coincided with some of Sunderland's worst and most insipid performances of the season.
It is clear to all watchers that they simply must find a way to replace him. But with finances precarious, what can they realistically look to do? Here are a few options...
The 30-year-old is desperate to leave Leicester City, behind Jamie Vardy, Islam Slimani, Ahmed Musa and Shinji Okazaki in the pecking order.
His agent has even blasted Claudio Ranieri in a bid to secure a move, branding the Italian a 'selfish egotist'.
Ulloa has distanced himself from those remarks and the Foxes are keen to keep hold of him, rejecting bids just short of £2 million from sides in Spain.
Could a bid of closer to £5 million tempt them to sell? It's not money Sunderland have right now but if the sale of Patrick van Aanholt goes through as expected, they could have some much needed breathing room, particularly with toured replacement Neil Taylor likely to only cost £3 million.
Ulloa is a player who has interested in Sunderland in the past and excellent with his back to goal, he has the ability to play the same role Anichebe succeeded at before Christmas. Keep an eye on rumoured interest from China in Slimani, for that move would almost certainly keep Ulloa in the midlands.
Arouna Kone has not had the same recent Premier League pedigree but is another experienced campaigner who could add some presence up front.
Another player who has interested Sunderland in the past.
Would probably command a similar fee to Ulloa but aged just 25, has the potential to become a player Sunderland could make a profit on.
Unproven in the Premier League but is a target man with an eye for goal, impressing on loan at Vitoria Guimaraes this season. Drew a blank for Mali in the African Cup of Nations and has now not scored since a hat-trick in October, but the Black Cats are in a position where any move they could afford would be a gamble.
Clearly not a player who could step into Anichebe's role, but would add some craft and guile up front.
Like Joleon Lescott, his addition would merely be a case of adding experience in the case of another injury disaster.
There would be question marks over the physical demands of the Premier League but as Jermain Defoe has already shown in recent years that finishing instincts never leave.
58% of 2000 Echo readers polled said this is a deal they would like to see come off.
Scour the continent for a loan
Sunderland still have room to add a foreign loan, and it may be wise to use that on a stop-gap replacement for Anichebe.
Other strikers without a club