While he may have turned up and been a discreet presence for Tyrone’s opening league win over Meath on the first day of the Allianz Leagues, last year’s top-scorer in the Championship, Cathal McShane, was not believed to be present for Tyrone’s inept defeat to Monaghan in Castleblayney.
Last week with McShane at home while he spends time considering an offer to play Australian Rules Football, he attended a senior team meeting for his club, Owen Roes, Leckpatrick.
His clubmates were careful not to exert too much pressure on him but were told he would take some time to consider his next move.
In his absence, the shortcomings of the Tyrone attack were magnified.
Across 78 minutes of football, they hit just seven points from play. In the second half, they racked up seven wides.
Inside forwards Mark Bradley and Ronan O’Neill had only one attempt between the pair of them and that O’Neill shot was blocked down by Ryan Wylie.
Most worryingly, they appeared to lack any sense of a focal point in attack.
Without their captain Mattie Donnelly and McShane, they had difficulty holding onto possession and lost the ball in Monaghan’s half twelve times in the first half alone.
Perhaps it was a freudian slip, but Harte appeared to concede the fight to keep McShane on these shores when he said afterwards, “It’s not just about Cathal McShane, we’d love to have him of course, and he’s gone.
“But sure Mattie Donnelly is injured at the minute, Paudie Hampsey is injured at the minute, who were very strong first team players.
“Petie’s (Harte) just back there this week from being away six or seven weeks, so obviously he wouldn’t be fit for a whole game.
"So there’s a lot of people, key players, that aren’t in the position we would like them to be at the minute.”
Pressed on the McShane issue, he added, “I always said I wouldn’t give up hope until I was sure that he had signed an alternative arrangement.
“I’m not sure that that has happened yet, but I know that it’s on the agenda.”
What will concern Harte gravely was the sight of All-Star full-back Ronan McNamee departing the pitch on 40 minutes after a serious collision with Monaghan’s Kieran Hughes.
“The doctors and the medical people take precautions nowadays with head injuries,” said Harte.
“They want to check it out to see if it’s safe to play on and we have to take their judgement on it and they thought it was safer to be cautious and come off.”
Last summer McNamee had a credible performance while marking Kerry attacker David Clifford, but it is conceivable that they may not have any of the full-back line of McNamee and fellow All-Star Padraig Hampsey, or Michael McKernan available when Kerry bring their much-vaunted attack to Newry on Sunday.
“I don’t know when you’d go out in Division One and find an easy game so it’s just a hard game and a harder game that’s just the way it is,” said Harte.
“That’s why it is important to get as many points as you can early in the season because they won’t be any easier to come by at the end of the season.”