The sensitivity of the three-dimensional secondary instability of a circular-cylinder wake to a structural perturbation of the associated linear equations is investigated. In particular, for a given flow condition, the region of maximum coupling between the velocity components is localized by using the most unstable Floquet mode and its adjoint mode. The variation of this region in time is also found by considering a structural perturbation which is impulsively applied in time at a given phase of the vortex-shedding process. The analysis is carried out for both mode A and mode B types of transition in the wake of a circular cylinder using a finite-difference code. The resulting regions identified as the core of the instability are in full agreement with the results reported in the literature and with the a posteriori checks documented here.
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