Will necessity triumph over principle? That is the central question set to be answered on Tuesday when England's selectors name a Test squad to travel to India - with or without Kevin Pietersen.
There is no doubt the presence of their most gifted batsman will be a major advantage in an otherwise worryingly inexperienced batting line-up to play four Tests on the sub-Continent.
That fact will not be lost on new captain Alastair Cook - a pragmatist on the pitch and thought to value a similarly, if politely, hard-nosed approach off it too. It is perhaps instructive as well that, when Pietersen was falling out with so many of his team-mates - not to mention coach Andy Flower and former captain Andrew Strauss - Cook's name was never to the fore.
That relative distance appears to be a telling factor for those prepared to stake their reputations on predictions that Pietersen will after all be welcomed back into the fold. A welcome is what it must be too. Flower, and his new lieutenant Cook, are wise heads and will know there can be no half-measures.
Either Pietersen has satisfied the grave concerns over his behaviour and has served his time by missing the imminent defence of England's ICC World Twenty20 crown - or he most definitely has not.
Flower and Strauss were at pains, as they tried to wring out a confession and apology from Pietersen over the content of "provocative" text messages he sent to opposition players during the Headingley Test against his native South Africa, that this was a situation with no quick-fix solution.
He could not simply waltz back into England's Test plans, as he clearly felt he would in his infamously contrite YouTube interview on the eve of his de-selection for the Lord's Test. First, he must satisfy team-mates and management that he had seen the error of his ways; second, and it seems just as important, there must be an appropriate passage of time.
England appeared to leave the door open for Pietersen to do the right thing till the very last minute, when they delayed their squad announcement for that match at HQ last month. But once he did not take that opportunity, the road back would have to be longer. So much then for England's most vexed issue ... it will all come out in the wash on Tuesday morning.
But there are other decisions which must be made, some dependent on the Pietersen solution, which will help to define careers as well as impact England's prospects in India. In any case, England are also about to announce a Performance Programme squad who will travel to India too for their own itinerary.
Their proximity, should reinforcements be required, gives the selectors an insurance policy in all departments.