Everton boss David Moyes admits Joleon Lescott's summer move to midweek opponents Manchester City had an adverse effect on his squad.
A £5million buy from Wolves in 2006, Moyes made a hefty profit on the England international last August in a deal believed to be worth around £22million.
Despite being reluctant to sell, Moyes was overpowered by the player's desire to join the Eastlands revolution, as his demoralised side made a poor start to the Premier League campaign.
After picking up just 15 points in the opening 14 league games, a recent run of seven successive home wins has propelled the Toffees to the verge of European qualification.
Moyes admits the Lescott transfer saga, which rumbled on for much of last summer, did get to his players early on in the campaign, but the Scot is keen to put the episode behind him ahead of Wednesday's trip to City.
"Damage was done by that transfer," admitted Moyes. "I think it had a lot to do with how we started the season, it wasn't just injuries. It took us a long time to recover.
"Our away form hasn't been as good as our home form. That could have had a lot to do with the instability we had at the start with new defenders coming into the team.
"It was a bit unfair on Sylvain Distin and Johnny Heitinga, being thrown straight into it when the team was short of one or two players.
"But we are talking about something that happened 10 months ago. I'm now stopping talking about it.
"The important thing is to try to win the next game. I think we have been playing well for a few months but there has also been the odd blip in there.
"We have got ourselves in a healthy position when you consider where we were in October-November.
"That is all credit to the players, they have worked really hard."
Ironically, Lescott will not be fit to face his former club after being ruled out for up to five weeks with a hamstring injury, but Moyes is nonetheless wary of the threat they possess having spent heavily last summer.
"It is a big test," Moyes admitted. "They have got some really big match-winners - but they paid really heavily, top dollar, to get them."