It is one of the first rules of football management that on first taking up a post a new boss must make clear that anything that goes wrong under his watch is the fault of the previous regime. It is a tactic that has allowed Mark Hughes to maintain an elevated reputation in the game despite delivering very little.
No doubt when he stages his first press conference as Ipswich manager, Mick McCarthy will make it known very early that it is not his team he is picking. Not me guv will be the default excuse. Everything that goes wrong is down to the lot before.
But in Brendan Rodgers's case, you have to think he might have a point. This week the Liverpool coach played his second string in the Capital One Cup tie with Swansea. And he found out quite a lot about them. Specifically that, despite banking more each month than the entire Greek state, they were not up to much.
A 3-1 defeat to the club he walked out on must have made Rodgers smart. But the show put on by some of his players will have hurt more. One long-time Anfield observer I spoke to said he had never seen a worse performance in a red shirt than the one Joe Cole gave in the first half. And Stewart Downing's uninterested shuffle on the wing was not far behind.
Rodgers certainly pulled no punches afterwards, giving swingeing analysis of the previous regime's profligacy which has left him with a bunch of over-paid mediocrities instead of a proper squad. These were players on huge income given an opportunity to demonstrate why they should be playing every week singularly failing to do so.
Now, it might be argued that they fact they didn't perform was demonstration of their manager's inability to motivate. Indeed there are those who suggest that the more seasoned players at Anfield have quickly seen through Rodgers's jargon-filled bluster and the only people who are listening to him now are the youngsters, too naïve and too star-struck to recognise that he is talking guff.
Except when you look at how Liverpool played in the derby against Everton three days before Wednesday's embarrassment, there seemed to be no shortage of effort and application from the first choice players. Luis Suarez, Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger: these are not the sort of characters you would imagine easily fooled. Yet they were all excellent against one of the Premier League's form teams.
And Joe Allen, the one genuine player Rodgers actually has brought in (the jury remains out on Fabio Borini) looked more than comfortable in a red shirt. Meanwhile Jamie Carragher, hardly a starry-eyed beginner, is known to be an enthusiastic supporter of Rodgers's training and preparation.
The truth is the manager is right. He is confronted daily by the legacy of past errors. Consider this: in 2007 Rafa Benitez signed Fernando Torres, Javier Mascherano and Skrtel. Now that is what you call a profitable bit of buying. In the five years since, Suarez, Glen Johnson and Allen have also arrived at the club.
The trouble is, so have the following: Robbie Keane, Alberto Aquilani, Cole, Downing, Jordan Henderson, Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam and Luis Enrique. Under the stewardship of the now mercifully departed Damien Comolli that surely represents one of the worst buying sprees in football history, a scattergun splurge of incoherence.
Eight hugely expenses purchases (or in the case of Cole a freebie on humungo wages) who should be forming the backbone of the team. Instead none of them are regulars. And on Wednesday we were given ample evidence to appreciate why they remain unpicked.
Realising quite what an inheritance he received (and able only to remove Aquilani and Adam permanently from his payroll) Rodgers has been obliged to play youngsters to plug the gaps in what should — given the investment — be a significant squad.
This weekend Liverpool play Newcastle. What a contrast they represent. In the time Liverpool have been throwing away their cash, Newcastle have been building a proper side. And on the cheap too, brought in after proper research and scouting. While raising his eyes to the heavens at what he has on his books, Rodgers would cheerfully employ at least half a dozen of the players Alan Pardew has at his disposal. Krul, Coloccini, Tiote, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Ba and Cisse: that is what you call a bit of business.
The irony is that the hierarchy who oversaw the Comolli disaster pride themselves on their astuteness in the market. The Fenway Sports Group came to Anfield singing the merits of buying cheap and adding value. Rodgers will be hoping that come January they start practising what they preached. The trouble is, he will already know it is too late to salvage anything this season.