Everton has been a dumping ground for so many players in search of a role that it is an unexpected pleasure to see one who has found it. Gary Speed played in a number of positions in his first season at Goodison, but on Saturday he was the attacking central midfielder that Everton have needed for a lot longer than he has been at the club.
Even in a frequently changing role, Speed finished as leading scorer in 1996-97 - although that says something about Everton's perennial problem in front of goal.
Now club captain as well, he reflected in his programme notes that it was about time he got started for this campaign, saying, with remarkable prescience, that he would not mind one or two against Barnsley to get off the mark.
That was exactly what he got. If his second goal came from a highly debatable penalty, his first was a reminder that, even when he was a full-time wide player, there were few more aggressive headers of the ball.
Speed's general play also gave Everton the thrust they have lacked, and, if they are still a long way from being a good side, there were plenty of other encouraging performances.
Not the least of them came from Danny Cadamarteri, a 17-year-old from Bradford making both his full debut and a considerable impact. Unlike many who break into first-team football at his age, Cadamarteri already has the muscular power to go with his youthful verve. His goal was thoroughly well taken and, until he was substituted, he always showed a refreshing willingness to take on the defence. He looked as good a foil for Duncan Ferguson as any of the cast of thousands that Everton have tried.
Nick Barmby had a busy afternoon behind the front two. Even more of a displaced person than the average Everton misfit, he supplied the pass to John Oster for their fourth goal, as well as winning the penalty for the third.
That award, after Clint Marcelle appeared to brush Barmby's heels, was the turning point, according to the Barnsley manager Danny Wilson, although his side immediately pulled a goal back through Darren Barnard.
But Barnsley's real problem lies in translating the poise and composure that won them promotion. They are having to scrap for points now - five bookings on Saturday - and it is not their style.
Goals: Speed (12) 1-0; Redfearn (32) 1-1; Cadamarteri (42) 2-1; Speed (77 pen) 3-1; Barnard (78) 3-2; Oster 84 (4-2).
Everton (3-4-1-2): Gerrard; Short, Watson, Bilic; Stuart, Williamson (Farrelly, 59), Speed, Hinchcliffe; Barmby; Ferguson, Caldamarteri (Oster, 72). Substitutes not used: Southall (gk), Barrett, Ball.
Barnsley (3-5-2): Watson; Moses, Shirtliff, De Zeeuw; Appleby (Marcelle, 73), Redfearn, Tinkler (Bullock, 84), Sheridan, Barnard; Liddell, Ward (Hristov, 58). Substitutes not used: Leese (gk), Krizan.
Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).
Bookings: Barnsley: De Zeeuw, Tinkler, Sheridan, Shirtliff, Hristov.
Man of the match: Speed. Attendance: 32,659.