Golden boots have vanished
Vardy is firing blanks, Spurs can't cope without Kane
Fairy tales finish. That's their trouble.
They build to a smashing crescendo only to leave behind that uncomfortable sense of anti-climax.
Jamie Vardy reached the end of the rainbow and left his golden boots there. Now the Leicester City striker can't find his way back.
Tottenham Hotspur find themselves in a similar predicament.
Last season, Harry Kane topped the English Premier League's goal-scorer's chart. Now he hobbles into training with an ankle injury.
Vardy finished second to Kane in the previous campaign. Now he's second to Shinji Okazaki for the Foxes.
Tonight, the two sides meet with their misfiring or missing marksmen emblematic of their respective failings.
Mauricio Pochettino laments the loss of his primary goalscorer, while Claudio Ranieri struggles with the prolonged headache of a dreamy hangover.
Last season, Leicester and Vardy wrote their Hollywood narrative together, line by line, goal by goal, until realising the perfect, comic-book ending.
The club achieved eternal gratitude from a city. Vardy earned a huge pay rise.
In this respect, there are echoes of Grant Holt and Rickie Lambert, industrious journeymen who scrapped among the lower leagues until a couple of prolific campaigns earned lucrative contracts and set them up for life.
Vardy has already signed a £100,000 ($170,000)-a-week contract that ensures the 29-year-old never needs to work again once he retires.
On first inspection, it seems harsh to lump Vardy with Holt and Lambert. Of course it is. Vardy's extraordinary form won him a league title, an England nod and a Hollywood movie deal.
But late bloomers, by their definition, rarely enjoy the sustained careers of consistent, metronomic talents because their careers take on the dramatic trajectory of fireworks.
They come from nowhere and dazzle the crowd before exploding in the night sky (or, in the case of Vardy, defenders grow wise to Leicester's 4-4-2 phenomenon and the striker's immense acceleration and finally take a step back).
Vardy hasn't lost a yard of pace, just the element of surprise. He hasn't scored for the Foxes since their 4-1 loss to Liverpool on Sept 10.
So Ranieri finds himself in the invidious position of potentially dropping a Ballon d'Or nominee against Tottenham.
In raw talent terms, Vardy might be twice the player of Shinji Okazaki, but half as effective at the moment.
Against Crystal Palace, the Japanese forward compensated for his lack of pace with greater diversity, equally comfortable facing the goal or his own teammates.
Apart from his goal, Okazaki offered versatile support for a midfield still reeling from the loss of N'Golo Kante.
There's a chance that White Hart Lane will miss not one but two England strikers. Kane and Vardy's names could be missing from the starting line-up.
But Pochettino has the greater problem. His star turn lacks able support acts.
Despite the Spurs manager's undoubted progress, a gaping flaw in his master plan remains around the penalty box.
Son Heung Min isn't a striker, not in the conventional sense.
The South Korean brings a splash of colour to the attack, particularly when he cuts in from the left. But Tottenham's drought proves he isn't a leader of the line.
Spurs' 2-1 loss at Liverpool in the League Cup was their fourth consecutive fixture without a goal from open play.
They scrabbled together just five shots on target. Only four were managed against Bournemouth in a dull 0-0 draw.
Still, there was supposed to be another great hope.
It wasn't that long ago when Tottenham invested heavily in a proven striker with a solid scoring record in a credible league to improve their goal tally. That was Roberto Soldado. The thought of recent history repeating itself must concern the lacklustre Vincent Janssen.
At AZ Alkmaar, he was awarded the Dutch Talent of the Year award. At Spurs, he appears leaden-footed and lost.
Heavy lies the £17-million price tag perhaps. He certainly seemed to have the weight of the world on his shoulders against Liverpool.
Janssen started slowly at AZ last season and ended up with 27 goals, so there's still time. There just isn't much patience in a side short of scoring options.
The Dutchman must quickly shake off the long shadow of Kane.
Vardy, on the other hand, needs to shake off the shadow of last season.
"I feel like we were in a title race with them last season and they got the better of us in the game at home and that changed where the league went. It’s an important game for us."
— Spurs’ Eric Dier
- Sunderland v Arsenal
- Man Utd v Burnley
- Middlesbrough v Bournemouth
- Watford v Hull
- West Brom v Man City
- Crystal Palace v Liverpool
- Everton v West Ham
- Southampton v Chelsea
- Stoke v Swansea
Ranieri: Shinji is our dilly-ding, dilly dong
Shinji Okazaki is the player who gives Leicester a wake-up call and gets the rest of the team going, according to Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri.
Leicester's return to winning ways in the Premier League last weekend, a first victory in four outings, coincided with the Japan international (pictured) being restored to the side for his first start since Sept 10.
He marked his recall by scoring the second of Leicester's goals in the 3-1 home success against Crystal Palace.
While Okazaki may not be prolific in front of goal - it was the 30-year-old's first league goal of the season - his hard work does not go unnoticed by Ranieri.
Okazaki covered 11.66 kilometres during the match against Palace, which is more than a kilometre further than fellow forwards Jamie Vardy and Islam Slimani in any game this campaign.
"He is a hard worker - sometimes he's not so close to goal but, when the ball is around the box, Shinji is always there," said Ranieri.
"He is important for team because he presses a lot - he is our dilly ding, dilly dong. He wakes up our players - he has the bell!"
Okazaki has given Ranieri a welcome selection dilemma ahead of tonight's trip to Tottenham, with Vardy vying for a recall after being dropped to the bench against Palace - a performance which Ranieri described as Leicester's best of the season so far.
Meanwhile, Ledley King, 36, has tipped his former team, who finished third behind Leicester last season, as genuine title contenders.
"Everyone wanted to see how Spurs would bounce back after the end of last season and I think they've shown they are a team that have to be taken seriously as title contenders," former Spurs captain King told Reuters in an interview.
"I've been very impressed with them this season. Even when the team haven't played to their best, they've still managed to find a way to get a result.
"This are a Spurs side I would have loved to play in, for sure.
"They're very defensively solid but this team has a great work ethic," he said. - Wire Services.