Roberto Mancini says any hopes of fielding his dream strike force at Manchester City will have to be put on hold until his injury worries clear up.
The City manager has been reluctant to start his "Fab Four" - Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli, Edin Dezko and David Silva - in the same team.
The Italian coach has a chance to experiment against Wigan Athletic on Saturday having written off their Premier League title hopes.
But Mancini, who did include all four in their recent Europa League win over Aris Salonika, is wary of leaving his side exposed by their attacking team selection.
"At this moment, I don't think there is a way to play Balotelli, Dzeko, Silva and Tevez together and get the best out of the team," he said.
"Maybe when we get all our players back, we can think about it. But at this moment, the team must have a balance."
Mancini's side warmed up for the visit of rock-bottom Wigan by booking an FA Cup quarter-final spot following their win over Aston Villa.
But it was the display of Balotelli, who scored in the fifth round victory, who answered Mancini's calls for more.
The Eastlands manager had been critical of Balotelli's work-rate, but said: "Mario is a player who is capable of doing things like scoring goals.
"I think he should always play like this.
"I have known him a long time, and I know that if he wants to, he can score in every game."
It means Manchester City are just fighting on two fronts, with the FA Cup and Europa League in their sights having fallen away in the league.
Just five points from as many Premier League games has seen their hopes evaporate in a slump that should be ended against the struggling Latics.
But despite discounting his side from mounting a late charge amid their fixture backlog, Mancini has only set his sights on securing a top-four finish that would guarantee Champions League football next season.
"We should be realistic, even if we win 10 games I don't think we can win the title," he said. "I think Arsenal have a chance and it depends if Chelsea win all their games.
"We need to get fourth position. We have been between first and fourth for 28 games. Now is the time for key games."
Mancini meanwhile expects Wigan to provide a stern test, despite a poor run of form which included last week's drubbing by Manchester United.
"Every time we play them we have difficulties, that's why it's important to have three or four fresh players who have enjoyed a rest," he said.
Wigan defender Emmerson Boyce believes his side will have nothing to fear when they make the short journey to Manchester City.
The Latics will have their work cut out to start the great escape against the world's wealthiest club, despite their recent dip in form.
But Boyce says his team-metes have every chance of coming away from emerging with a result and will go there full of confidence.
"You look at City's team -- they have world-class players right through from the goalkeeper to the strikers," he said.
"They're still challenging for the title and they'll be looking for a result themselves.
"It's a tough test for the lads, but Eastlands is a place where teams can go and get a result as we've seen this season.
"We'll go there with not as much fear as you have playing Manchester United, believing we can come away with something."