If Pompey are condemned to a fifth consecutive season in League Two, inquests will rightly be launched.
Yet such an unpalatable fate will not hinge on the identity of the right-back.
The stark reality is the Blues require more goals – the promotion aspiration depends on it.
Cue Paul Cook’s pursuit of Preston North End’s Eoin Doyle during the January transfer window.
Recruiting a new striker has been the Pompey boss’ absolute priority, certainly outranking any need to sign up a conventional right-back.
Granted, his pool of strikers is already overflowing, even without another potential arrival. However, winning promotion is considerably more important than keeping striking numbers in check.
Cook’s solution is a player who yielded 38 goals in 84 appearances during their Chesterfield days together.
Irrespective of how Doyle has fared since progressing to the Championship, his lower division record is outstanding. And for a side hunting a proven, experienced player to strengthen its promotion push, the 28-year-old is unquestionably a must-have commodity.
Preston, of course, have a say in the matter, with a possible loan deal on hold until they can recruit a replacement.
They are open to Doyle moving elsewhere for the remainder of the season, while Bolton have also shown an interest, possessing the advantage of being a League One side.
Yet Pompey have demonstrated admirable ambition in attempting to secure the Irishman – and how they need him.
Michael Smith, a player of brittle confidence, is toiling away to win over the fans yet it is proving difficult, while the goals haven’t flowed.
Conor Chaplin was taken out of the first team following a mid-November lull, recently returning re-energised to net twice against Leyton Orient.
However, Cook has concerns over the seven-goal striker’s effectiveness in the 4-2-3-1 and recognises the need to nurture the teenager.
Then there is Noel Hunt, who has impressed at times, yet chiefly as a substitute, while Curtis Main has been injured since mid-October and remains discounted.
January newcomer Jamal Lowe is not a centre forward, instead regarded as more effective in the attacking midfield three or out wide.
As for Nicke Kabamba, unlike Lowe he has never previously served at a Football League club and is still considered raw. He remains a first-team prospect for the future.
Instead Cook wants Doyle, not so much a goalscoring gamble but a dead cert.
This is no time to blood unproven youngsters or put your trust in potential. Conor Wilkinson stand down, please.
Pompey require a striker to slot in and score regularly during the next three months and 11 days.
The successful candidate could well earn them a place in League One.