In one respect it is possible to say Carlisle United's owners have been strictly true to their word on the mystery "billionaire", whose arrival (or non-arrival) on the scene is a year old today.

When the Blues first announced the approach, on May 19, 2015, there was this from chairman Andrew Jenkins: "It is essential we take time to consider this latest development."

Nobody can accuse Brunton Park's rulers of going back on that particular pledge. As 366 days pass without United having been transformed by overseas cash, one can only assume the considering is still taking place, the time still being taken.

The sceptical view, which has spread the longer this empty saga has gone on, is of course that today's anniversary marks 12 months of very little indeed.

Those defensive of the regime say people who have been prodding around this subject for a long time are just making trouble, or disregarding normal business practice where confidentiality prevails.

Perhaps we have - or perhaps it is simply enough to test out what Carlisle's owners have said along the way, and see how it measures up to what has happened. Words and actions.

On May 19, to begin with, a "genuine and firm" expression of interest was disclosed, with the timescale of investment - a "three to five year period" - already set out.

At first glance, those details seemed to suggest we were not simply looking at some speculative shot in the dark. Or were we? "Three to five years" was, on reflection, both vague and finite. Was it three or was it five? And what would happen after that?

On May 21, we were informed that the "next stage" of talks would be held "in the next five to 10 days". This was long before "five to 10 days" became supporter shorthand for promises that went nowhere fast - yet, in hindsight, these were further signs that things were already getting curiously less specific.

On May 26, director Lord Clark nonetheless anticipated speedy progress. "We should not have long to wait to see if the latest investment interest comes to fruition," he said. Much, perhaps, depended on one's definition of "long".

On June 3, the five-to-10 day period having expired without anything tangible, Jenkins and John Nixon reported "several contacts with the individual's agent" and the sending of information to the foreign suitor. "The next step," they said, "will be to try and arrange a meeting with the potential new investor himself. It is just a question of time and logistics." Key words there: "try," and "just".

By June 27, there had still been no such get-together. With disquiet starting to spread, United's owners confirmed their belief they were indeed dealing with a billionaire - a term first used by erstwhile vice-president Andy Bell. Reasons for lack of progress? "Holidays, illness and the investor's business commitments." And all at the same time; an unfortunate coincidence.

Onto July 11. Nixon appeared on BBC Radio Cumbria , on condition that no questions would be asked. Why such a stipulation, if this was indeed a bright path forward for Carlisle United? From the owner's statement, we gleaned that "live discussions" were continuing, and the billionaire was doing his "due diligence" on United's finances. Ominously, though, there was now no anticipated deadline. "These things take time," advised Nixon.

Never a truer word. Jenkins then professed to share fans' frustrations over the speed of events, reiterating the confidentiality agreement that United had apparently signed. It was a little later that Carlisle dropped the previous, local investment plan led by Andrew Lapping from a great height, claiming the money involved would have been nothing more than a "sticking plaster".

But what's this? On July 27, Jenkins' next update suggested billionaire talks had moved onto "the next stage", with both parties heading "in due course" towards "due diligence"? Hang on - hadn't this already been happening?

No time to dwell, for more events were to follow. Nixon "stepped down" as managing director on July 31, a statement claiming he would remain on the holding company board as "director of external affairs". His position on United's operational board was not mentioned, but for the avoidance of doubt, he remained on both - while Carlisle's "commitment" to appointing a new MD, announced on May 19, was also looking a shade less emphatic.

A new season duly started with little to report. Then, on August 27, Carlisle insisted "all communication channels" remained open with the billionaire, including conference calls, and the insistence that "we are still trying to tie up that meeting". Five to 10 days were now yesterday's news. A hundred had passed.

Jenkins, though, remained sure of his ground. Speaking to The Cumberland News , he claimed the billionaire was previously "in for another club in Italy" before their commercial manager blabbed and the tycoon got cold feet. "So we're keeping our part of the bargain." Autumn then saw Steven Pattison's "Keith" Twitter gaffe, while the News & Star 's asking of 20 questions about the increasingly opaque situation angered Jenkins, who approached Radio Cumbria commentators on October 3 and swore.

The following weekend, in his programme notes, United's chairman maintained the billionaire remained a "potential investor", with no further details offered.

Next - some billionaires! Well, sort of. On October 17, five supporters had become so bothered by the saga that they took matters into their own hands, hiring a stretch Hummer and turning up at Brunton Park in various shades of tycoon regalia: Lord Sugar, Del Boy, Michael Knighton, Mr Monopoly and a Sheikh. Certain parties in the hierarchy were Not Amused.

This lampooning came shortly before the six-month point, by which time the old tune was still being played. Discussions with the mystery man were at "exactly the same stage" as the Lapping deal had been after a similar period, United insisted. Yet how could that be? One assumes that Lapping had actually met the owners by then.

As November rolled by, United were now tabling different, smaller, local investment proposals which their supporters' trust, rebranded in the summer as CUOSC, batted back. Where the billionaire slotted into this suddenly altered vision was not clear. The club's annual accounts, meanwhile, reiterated the pursuit of "international investment".

It all meant the future shape of Carlisle United remained undefined - other than the very apparent increase of debt to Jenkins and his firm, Pioneer: £1.78m, to be exact.

The season went on, Keith Curle's team threatening the play-offs before dipping below them, and then a new £2m investment offer, involving local businessmen and CUOSC, was tabled. This received a short, sharp and cold response by the owners, who wondered openly how Jenkins would get his money back.

To February 19, then, and more Jenkins programme notes. The billionaire remained a "live option", although "things have gone quiet at their end," and United were seeking answers on "where we stand".

"There will come a point," Jenkins said, "when we will need to draw a line".

With no sign of that line being drawn, a month or so later, Carlisle's supporter representative Claire Winder elicited from the owners that the billionaire had not made any contact during December's flood crisis: an international news story that brought sympathy and donations from so many sources.

How could this be, from such a "genuine" and "firm" party with designs on the submerged football club?

Winder was not around much longer to find out, resigning after apparently being accused of a confidentiality breach by United's owners. In the meantime, Jenkins claimed his patient stance had been supported by some genuine billionaires - the Jordanian Al-Qadi family, new owners of Bristol Rovers. This crystallised the regime's attitude. Carlisle's silence was still golden.

So on things pottered, further into this odyssey of conspiracies, a planned £1m share issue the most recent scheme to carry no obvious mention of all that overseas cash (whilst including the genuine and firm possibility that Jenkins and Nixon might strengthen their hold on the Blues via loan conversions).

And here we now are, a full year later, checking all these words against the facts, weighing questions against answers and comparing pledges with reality, and wondering, if indeed "these things" do "take time", whether those running United are still holding one end of the longest piece of string in the world - and why they still seem reluctant to let go.

What they said...the original Carlisle United statement from May 19, 2015:

Carlisle United Football Club are pleased to announce they have received a prospective new investment offer from a second party which has expressed a genuine and firm interest in taking the club forward on a fresh financial basis.

This proposed investment is structured over a three to five year period as opposed to a one-off injection of funding.

The club held lengthy discussions with their legal and financial advisers yesterday evening and it has subsequently been decided that current discussions about the club's shareholding should be temporarily put on hold until this new offer is fully assessed.

Chairman Andrew Jenkins said: "It is our duty as directors to get the best possible deal for the long-term future of the club. Therefore, it is essential that we take time to consider this latest development."

In the meantime, the recruitment of new players and retention of existing players is continuing and Keith Curle and his backroom team have been kept informed.

The club remains committed to appointing a new Managing Director and a new Sales and Marketing Director but because of this new investment offer, the club will temporarily put on hold planned appointments of all senior non-playing staff.