Identify this part
So there i was, adjusting my front derailleur cable with a "4th Hand" tool, when all of a sudden out pops this squiggly little spring-type piece.
I examined the front mech and could not readily identify exactly where the piece had sprung from in order to try reinserting it. I then took the next logical step and checked out the exploded view of the F/D on the shimano tech page. It was of no use.
I adjusted the cable anyway, and took the bike outside to check 'er out. Oddly enough, there was no discernible difference in my front shifting. I thought this was strange, and I simply don't trust it to stay that way out on the trail. I figure if parts are jumping out of my derailleur, that's bound to be a bad thing.
Anyway, I've attached a picture of the piece, next to a quarter for scale. Can somebody help me figure out:
a) where does this piece fit back in?
b) can it easily be reinserted, or am i better off just dropping $40 on a new front mech?
c) will it possibly be okay to keep riding without it, and expect nothing bad to come of it?
The derailleur is a Shimano XT top swing front mech. It is a 2003 M750, not a newer M760. I believe that there is little to no difference between the two, but perhaps I am wrong about that.