Based on the evidence of Melbourne City's 2-2 draw with Sydney FC, both sides need to delve into the Hyundai A-League transfer market when it opens on Tuesday.
With Aaron Mooy, Erik Paartalu and Ivan Franjic out injured, City looked a shadow of their former selves in the first half on Saturday night - despite going into the break 1-0 up - while Sydney's lack of a genuine goal threat was stark yet again.
Aaron Hughes - who had struggled up until that moment - put City in front after the half-hour mark but the visitors struck back in the 53rd minute through Milos Ninkovic.
City went ahead again when Bruno Fornaroli headed in Harry Novillo's cross in the 60th minute but Sydney claimed a point when Ninkovic completed his brace with a header with 12 minutes remaining.
The Sky Blues wasted at least 10 chances in the opening 45 minutes, underlining the importance of a finding another striker for coach Graham Arnold in the January transfer window.
City were given a glimpse of the nightmare life would be like without Aaron Mooy.
The Socceroos attacking midfielder was left out after suffering "a little hit" in training, according to City coach John van 't Schip, and Robi Koren was largely ineffective as his replacement.
The Slovenian marquee player has struggled with injuries in Australia and based on Saturday night's performance, Van 't Schip will need another option in the number 10 role if Mooy was to be unavailable long-term.
It is a similar situation for Arnold with captain Alex Brosque - with Andrew Hoole, George Blackwood and Filip Holosko all failing to convert chances.
Brosque is Sydney's leading scorer this season with five goals but an ongoing hamstring complaint meant he missed this contest.
In the absence of Mooy, Paartalu (groin) and Franjic (corked quad) - plus Paulo Retre, who was suspended - Van 't Schip picked Hughes and Matt Millar in defence, teenager Ali Eyigun in midfield and Koren in behind striker Fornaroli.
Speaking after the match, Van 't Schip explained he had given the injured trio until Saturday morning to prove their fitness.
"We had so many changes and we didn't even get a chance to practice this week with this team because it came up this morning, actually," the Dutchman said.
All four promoted players struggled early, as the Sky Blues streamed forward on numerous occasions but could not provide the finishing touch.
What will have been particularly disappointing for the home fans - and worrying for Van 't Schip - was the inability of experienced pair Koren and Hughes to pick up the pace of the match.
It made the decision to drag Eyigun in the 33rd minute seem particularly harsh, with the 18-year-old on his A-League debut.
Mooy, Paartalu and Franjic should be back soon but depth must be a worry for Van 't Schip.
While both sides improved in the second half, they look far from able to challenge the A-League's top-two of Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers at this stage.
The positive for Van 't Schip is that his side remains dangerous going forward - even without Mooy - if Novillo and Fornaroli are on song.
The French winger and Uruguayan striker produced most of City's best moments at AAMI Park, as Sydney struggled to handle the power of Novillo in particular.
Novillo could have won the match in the 89th minute when he jinked into the box but his powerful drive was parried away by Vedran Janjetovic, while Sydney substitute Shane Smeltz hacked a shot over the bar at the other end in stoppage time.
Sydney fans will take some joy out of the performance of Ninkovic, who seems much more comfortable in a number 10 role than on the left wing.
The Serbian playmaker displayed fantastic vision throughout the match, with only his team-mates' poor finishing costing Sydney the win.
"Ninkovic is starting to find his feet," Arnold said.
"You can see what he did tonight. I've had to change the system to get the best out of him… so I think he will get better and better in the second half of the season."