Whichever side of the fence you're standing on, during deadline day Sturridge either rejected a loan move to Liverpool, or Chelsea insisted only on an outright sale. But the result is the same: it's another four months of the odd few minutes here, a Cup appearance there, for one of England's best young attacking talents.
Only that he's no longer that young. Sturridge turned 23 this month. His peers across Europe are having teams built around them. They're the focal points of attack. Sturridge faces an immediate future of being an option to rundown the clock.
It should have clicked during Team GB's Olympics run. Outstanding in one game, inconsistent the next, Sturridge looked a player crying out for some miles in the legs. Against the UAE he was outstanding, but inconsistent against Uruguay. You could see Sturridge was desperate to make an impact. He never hid and at times appeared the genuine GB leader, even with Craig Bellamy and Micah Richards on the pitch. But it was still too intermittent.
Against the UAE, it was all there. The arrogance, the mobility, the courage ... all capped off with a wonder goal. But for the win over Uruguay he was flat and struggled to get into the game. As he showed against the UAE, you were willing him to grab things by the scruff of the neck. But the game largely passed him by.
It was only at Christmas that Mancini was taking aim at his predecessors for allowing Sturridge to slip through Manchester City's hands.
“He was one of the best young players here at City. I asked him last year, when he was playing on loan at Bolton. I asked ‘why did you leave Manchester City?’ He said ‘I don’t know why.’
“When you have a young player maybe sometimes it’s difficult to understand what will happen. But with Sturridge it was not too difficult to see he was a good player," Mancini said.
But pointedly, Mancini also highlighted that at his age, Sturridge must be playing regularly to meet his potential.
“He can play every week. For a young player it is important to play.
“If you don’t play then it is difficult to improve.
“It’s important to invest with youngsters.
“He would have been a great player for the future.
“If Sturridge was here today he would be playing in the first team regularly.”
His former England U21 teammate, Andy Carroll, has taken a step down from Liverpool to rebuild his career at West Ham United. Would that be beneath Sturridge? You'd like to think not. At this moment, comparing the two, who's better placed to make the most of their potential?
This week, Sturridge has been assured of his England place by Hodgson, but the player needs to know that his reputation can only carry him for so long.