The name being uttered with a sigh was that of Aymeric Laporte.
Manchester City's performance at Norwich has been roundly and rightfully criticised, branded in some quarters their worst since Pep Guardiola's hard first season in charge. In his absence, the feeling went, City fell to pieces at the back.
His presence has impressively masked serious underlying defensive issues and allowed Otamendi or Stones to appear to be solid as the Frenchman's partner at the back.
Behind the top two, there is a five-way tie between those likely to be fighting for the final two Champions League places this season with Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Leicester all on eight points from the opening five games.
But five games into this campaign, they already trail the Reds by five points.
"This kind of game here in England - it's not possible to play because you need to have tackles and you have to play like that - these players gave me the prestige that I have".
Manchester City are no longer the favourites for the Premier League title. We have to see what the problems are.
"I think we lost this game because of us", the Spain global said.
"They [the players] gave me all the prestige I have in England, when the first season when it was "fraud" Guardiola, "Fraudiola", Guardiola told a news conference.
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"I don't know if people trust us or not, but we are a team".
So that's that, then. With Laporte expected to return in January or February, he could be fit in time for the latter stages of the Champions League.
"They had a lot as well but the team defended unbelievably well".
In the short term he may persist, or perhaps may look to make good on his pledge to use Fernandinho as a centre-half. The heart of City's central defence during their successful title bid has been ripped apart with Vincent Kompany gone and Laporte out.
The Belgian was also at pains to point out that the defeat was not down to the fact he did not start.
Often when Guardiola talks the conversation comes back to himself and there will be things he has to deal with too.
"The team is working, we are down now but we have to wake up because we have matches every three days".
City's recovery starts on Wednesday when they face Shakhtar Donetsk away in the Champions League.
Being part of one of the world's richest and most successful clubs has its upsides, but also its unique challenges.
Guardiola said after the game that it is too early in the season to consider the defeat as a blow to their quest to win a third successive league title - something Rodri agreed with.