When Victor Moses announced his international retirement from Super Eagles duty in August, the decision shocked the Nigerian football community to its roots, few of whom had seen the decision coming.
Moses had appeared primed to play a key role as an experienced head in this young Nigeria side as the Eagles looked to return to the Africa Cup of Nations and make a big impact in Cameroon.
Moses cited family and club commitments as major reasons for calling time on his six-year international career, but Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr had revealed to KweséESPN days after the announcement he hoped Moses would reverse his decision.
"We spoke already and I hope that his decision is not definitive," the German began. "I think it depends on his motivation.
"If he really wants to commit himself again, he is welcome. Maybe the chance to win the AFCON is motivation. We will see."
A few months on, however, and the Eagles are coping just fine without Moses, who has dropped out of the picture - and is struggling for relevance - at Chelsea.
The results have been impressive, even if the team didn't truly convince against the Seychelles, and Moses's absence has allowed Rohr to blood several youngsters and integrate some new faces into the side.
Samuel Kalu, Henry Onyekuru and Samuel Chukwueze are the key beneficiaries, with all having been called up since Russia after missing the World Cup trip.
Had Moses, who has managed just 165 minutes of action for the Blues this term, stuck around, Rohr would have faced a tricky decision; should he have dropped the out-of-sorts wideman to allow one of the youngsters to flourish?
We'll never know what he would have gone for, although either way, Rohr would have had his critics, and Moses's retirement made his decision an easy one.
Admittedly, Moses's experience would have been an asset for this young Eagles side, and regardless of his underperformance, Rohr could have been tempted to have retained his services.
Kalu might still be waiting for his first cap, and Chukwueze for his first call-up.
Without Moses, Nigeria have been creating chances regularly and have scored an impressive 12 goals in four matches.
The widemen have been influential, with Musa scoring against Seychelles and Libya, Onyekuru against Liberia and Kalu against Liberia.
Girondins de Bordeaux wideman Kalu caught the eye against Seychelles, and while he appeared to overelaborate against Libya, he looks set to have a long international career ahead of him.
Onyekuru is also one to watch, and has returned to the squad as a late call-up to replace the injured Odion Ighalo. The upcoming Bafana Bafana clash could be the game in which he finally earns Rohr's full trust.
The Galatasary forward - curiously - was never listed in the same Nigeria squad as Moses in 2017, a clear indication his path to progression was blocked by the senior player.
Indeed, his caps against Togo and Algeria came when the Chelsea winger was unavailable. The retirement of Moses has seen him make four further Nigeria appearances, scoring a spectacular goal on his solitary start against Liberia, while also providing an assist for Kalu.
Finally, a decision to drop Onyekuru to the standby list for the upcoming gathering has led to a first call-up for exciting 19-year-old Villarreal winger Chukwueze.
The 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup winner is naturally left-footed with a low centre of gravity, who has an eye for the spectacular and can create chances almost out of nothing. He's perhaps the closest thing Nigeria have to a natural successor for Moses.
While the absence of Moses's experience in major clashes against other African giants in next year's showpiece may ultimately hurt the Super Eagles, for now, they're doing just fine without their Premier League-winning forward.
In fact, Moses's absence has actually allowed Rohr to assess some of his broader options in wide areas, and a multi-talented set of wingers will represent a real area of strength in Cameroon.