With the veritable flurry of transfer news that has surrounded Sunderland so far, one question has yet to really be addressed. It is a question that crops up just about every year and always provokes great debate amongst fans, and this time it is no different.
So, just where do - or should - Sunderland stand on loan deals this summer?
Perhaps given the apparent new system and ideology at work at Sunderland nowadays, the question has become one of even greater relevance. On the surface, the club seem committed to identifying and developing their own talent, so where exactly would devoting time and resources into players who belong to other clubs actually fit into that?
Certainly, Manchester United saw considerably more benefit from the loan of Danny Welbeck than Sunderland did. Similarly, Danny Rose has been delivered back to Tottenham a far more polished performer than the one who arrived in the North East a year ago whilst Sunderland themselves found themselves back to square one with regard the left back position.
From a fan's perspective, there is little more frustrating than getting an attachment to a talented young player, only to see him grow to beyond your means before your club have even had him and then watch from afar as he has a career at the top.
That said, there are also examples of when a loan deal is of massive practical use, so perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to dismiss them.
You could certainly argue with genuine gusto and justification, for example, that without the arrival of Jonny Evans on loan Sunderland wouldn't have secured their last promotion to the Premier League or staved off relegation in that vulnerable first season amongst the elite.
We can also look beyond our own club for examples, with Romelu Lukaku springing immediately to mind. The Belgian behemoth was a massive hit at West Bromwich Albion last season, and it would be difficult to envisage the Baggies securing a top eight finish without him.
It seems unlikely that Lukaku will return to The Hawthornes next season, but his presence there has helped build a platform from which they can progress that probably wouldn't have been there without him.
The potential benefits of loans have never really changed. You get a player without having to commit to a large fee and long contract, you are able to have a good look at a player's character and quality on a daily basis, and you get - at the very least - a short term shot in the arm.
It is also worth noting that when loaning players in the foreign market, which Sunderland are clearly heavily favouring at the moment, there has to be a pre-agreed fee to make it permanent transfer. There are loopholes to nullify that, of course, but it is still an appeal and the buying club would still have to agree to it.
There is almost a strange inclination to assess loan deals from one single perspective - specifically the worst case scenario. It is true that should a loaned player do well it makes it tougher to bring them back to the club once it has expired. We have seen that before.
But we have also seen the other side of the coin. We have seen the likes of Danny Simpson, John Mensah, Sulley Muntari, Djibril Cissé, and Nicklas Bendtner come in, do a decent enough short term job and then leave without really costing the club much.
Surely there is a strong case to be made in favour of a loan deal for someone like John Guidetti, for example? We don't know how fit he is following his troubles last season and we don't know if he can perform at this level. That would have to be better than committing considerable money to him and taking the risk.
Similarly, with so many young players coming in from abroad, grabbing one or two experienced Premier League players who can offer some quality in the short term whilst not draining the clubs resources beyond a single season must be an avenue worth exploring.
The problem in the past with loans has been that they mostly haven't got the rest right. The loan market, utilised properly, must be used to compliment what you already have. For too long, though, Sunderland haven't done well enough in the transfer market and loan players have become vital components of the side.
That meant that when they left, they left a massive gap that the club could ill-afford to plug with similar quality, and a huge loss was felt as a result.
But there is no need to turn your nose up at the loan market on ego-fueled principle. The key is simply to get your other business done to a level where by you are no longer relying upon other club's players. In other words, it comes down to recruitment. It always comes down to recruitment.
So where do Sunderland stand on loans this summer? I don't think there is much doubt that the club will be pretty receptive towards them. We shouldn't be too disappointed by that, as it will only become an issue should the bulk of the others signings fail - and if they do then the threat of losing loanees next summer will be the least of our problems.