trace: trace of something a very small amount of something. E.g. The post-mortem revealed traces of poison in his stomach. She spoke without a trace of bitterness.
haughtiness: the trait of behaving in an unfriendly way towards other people because you think that you are better than them. E.g. without the slight trace of haughtiness or indifference.
grapple: to try hard to find a solution to a problem. E.g. grapple with something The new government has yet to grapple with the problem of air pollution.
price tag: label on something that shows how much you must pay. E.g. (figurative) There is a £2 million price tag on the team's star player.gouge somebody/something /ɡaʊdʒ/ (North American English) to force somebody to pay an unfairly high price for something; to raise prices unfairly. E.g. Housing shortages permit landlords to gouge their renters. Price gouging is widespread.
tilt the playing field
tilt: to move, or make something move, into a position with one side or end higher than the other. E.g. Suddenly the boat tilted to one side.
There is a concept of the "level playing field", which means a fair environment in which both sides have the same chances. A playing field which slopes favours the side which is playing downhill.
level the playing field: to give everyone the same advantages or opportunities. E.g. It was an effort to level the playing field and achieve greater equality between the sexes. Government funding can level the playing field for political candidates without money.
Tilting the playing field means to change things to make it harder for your opponent to win. The phrase comes from football. If one goal is higher than the other, the team attacking downhill has an unfair advantage.
sabre-rattling also saber-rattling threatening behaviour which is intended to frighten someone. E.g. After months of sabre-rattling, the two sides have agreed to a peaceful resolution of their differences.
sabre or saber /ˈseɪbə(r)/ 1 a heavy sword with a curved blade 2 a light sword with a thin blade used in the sport of fencing. Sp sable.
rattle (something) to make a series of short loud sounds when hitting against something hard; to make something do this. Sp. repiquetear. E.g. Every time a bus went past, the windows rattled. He shook me so hard that my teeth rattled.
creep in/into something to begin to happen or affect something. E.g. As she became more tired, errors began to creep into her work.
rein somebody/something back/ rein something in to start to control somebody/ something more strictly. Keep under control; restrain. E.g. We need to rein back public spending. She kept her emotions tightly reined in. The government had failed to rein in public spending.