The pictorial time line on the street side of Goodison Park's main stand shows a smiling David Moyes having being appointed as Everton manager 11 long years ago. A good number of the thousands who passed it on their way out of the ground on Saturday must have been wondering whether a new entry will be added this summer, denoting the end of an era.
After a 3-0 defeat by Wigan Athletic as bitterly disappointing in performance as result, the man himself, whose contract expires in June, remained non-committal about the long term, while insisting that he will get up and go again today to ensure that the team's season does not peter out.
"I could not say if this was a defining moment," he said. "I would say I would expect this team to kick on now. We have tended to shrug off these things in the past and let's hope that's what we can do again. So I would expect the same from the players now and from me too.
"I have always said we were delighted that we were fighting on two fronts, for a place in Europe and the FA Cup semi-final, even if we knew we had frailties. Now we have one thing left, so I would expect us to give that a good go."
The example he used was last season, when Everton recovered immediately from the heavy blow of an FA Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool to remain unbeaten in their remaining five games and maintain seventh place in the table. As for his own position, he added: "People will always draw conclusions about my contract situation, or the fact I have been here for more than a decade."
Wigan believe that a similar level of managerial stability has served them equally well, though the challenge for Roberto Martinez, who turned down the chance to join Aston Villa, is now to finish above them and two others to preserve Premier League status.
Amid all the excitement about a first FA Cup semi-final – against Blackburn or Millwall – and an appearance at Wembley, when chairman Dave Whelan will be invited to lead the team out, Martinez is coldly unromantic.
"The league has to come first," he said. "With the financial changes that are coming into force next season, the difference between clubs in the Premier League and the Championship is going to be huge. We've got great plans for new facilities and the training ground, and all that is reliant on being in the Premier League. If we can do that and enjoy success in the Cup, that will be very welcome. But it can never come at the expense of our place in the Premier League."
The way in which his players carried out the tactical plan on Saturday, while giving Everton a lesson in passing the ball and taking chances – three of them in an astonishing three-and-a-half-minute period – augurs well for that hope, although the task is still far from straightforward.
Goals: Wigan Figueroa 30, McManaman 31, Gomez 33. Substitutions: Everton Anichebe (Neville, h-t), Gibson (Fellaini, 67), Barkley (Mirallas, 79). Wigan Miyaichi (McManaman, 40), Golobart (Alcaraz, 91). Bookings: Everton Neville, Osman, Fellaini, Gibson. Wigan Maloney. Man of the match Beausejour. Match rating 6/10. Possession: Everton 54%. Wigan 46%. Attempts on target: Everton 3. Wigan 6. Ref K Friend (Leicestershire). Att 35,068.Reuse content