If Tevez did not want to honour his contract, they would find someone who actually wanted to be part of a club aiming at the stratosphere.
Sergio Aguero appeared a wonderfully elegant solution. He shared Tevez's compact, muscular physique, an ability to sprint, spin and seduce a way through defences, yet was four years younger and looked after himself better.
"Kun" Aguero slipped into City's beguilingly technical style of play, scoring so often last season's captain was relegated to political sideshow.
One Argentina international substituted for another as City made an important point of not letting Tevez leave on the cheap.
There was just one problem: Aguero turned out to have more in common with his compatriot than they had wished for.
Aguero's family have not taken to the north west of England. They have not enjoyed the weather, they have struggled with the language. Worse still a club from their old hometown have been dangling an invite in front of their faces.
Real Madrid admired Aguero when he was leading Atletico Madrid's line but resolved to avoid the agonies of attempting a cross-city transfer. The very idea that Florentino Perez, the Real president, might be his next employer helped Aguero lever his way out of a club the striker felt he had outgrown.
Now, though, Real see an opportunity. They know Aguero is struggling with his new life, and they have a discontented forward of their own in Gonzalo Higuain who they believe may appeal to City. Critically, Aguero has intimated that he will facilitate any bid.
For the purposes of public record, the 23 year old says reports of his unhappiness at City and interest in Real do not come from him, that he wants to win this season's Premier League and "stay here for a long time after that".
Tellingly, Real are not discouraged.
Then there is Aguero's father-in-law's thoughts on the matter. "Kun has to play for Real Madrid," says Diego Maradona, the Al Wasl coach, who knows a bit about big-money transfers.
"Even though he is flying at City, the best thing would have been to sign for Madrid. He made a mistake," Maradona said.
"Now, as he is doing so well, it will be difficult to get him from City. However if Madrid want someone, they get them. Florentino has no limits. It's a question of convincing City - but not with money because they have plenty of that."
So for the €150m-plus it cost just to acquire their signatures, City could have two troubled Argentines, a recalcitrant Italian who is linked constantly with a return to Milan, and an unconvincing Bosnian. Nobody said building a superclub is easy.
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