Logically, reading versus the combined footballing history of Merseyside ought to be a no-contest, although not where the FA Cup is concerned. Last year, Brian McDermott had led his team to Anfield and seen them emerge with a victory that pushed Rafael Benitez significantly closer to the edge.
A little over 12 months later, another explosive scoreline saw Reading reach the quarter-finals for the second successive year and snuff out any remaining interest Everton had in their season. It is a campaign that Marouane Fellaini, who will undergo an ankle operation, will take no further part in. Tim Cahill, suffering from a foot injury, will miss the next fortnight; further blows in a season full of bruises.
McDermott said he did not want to come to Goodison and "be clapped off having lost three- or four-nil". His team was clapped off after winning rather more comfortably than 1-0 suggests. "I will not forget that," he said. "You can tell a club by the way they lose and Liverpool and Everton were both class."
That was virtually the only class on display from a side that might have imagined they had cleared a path to the quarter-finals after overcoming Chelsea in the previous round. However, aside from one electric save from Alex McCarthy, nominally Reading's reserve keeper, to deny Leon Osman late on, David Moyes admitted Everton had shown "no craft, no quality".
"We are not going to hide from it, this is a major disappointment," the Everton manager said. "We thought that after getting past Chelsea this was a great opportunity for us but we did not have sufficient quality to take it."
Moyes might have suspected this might not be a straightforward evening when the M62 motorway was shut following an accident, thus preventing Jermaine Beckford from joining up with the Everton squad in time for kick-off.
The man who had scored twice against Sunderland on Saturday did not come on until the interval by which time Everton had conceded one and, but for Tim Howard's coolness when faced with a one-on-one with Jimmy Kébé, it might have been two. When Beckford did come on, his chief contribution was to block Louis Saha's goal-bound shot.
This was, however, much more than a smash-and-grab operation and midway through the first half, when Ian Harte sent over a corner that the Everton defence failed to deal with, Matt Mills, Reading's captain, volleyed home. At 24, he is young to be skipper but this was a display full of maturity from a side that had won just one of their previous half-dozen matches.
Those who had come from Berkshire may have suffered similar delays to Beckford but they made rather more impression on the evening. "Saha, Saha, where's your car ?" they chanted in reference to the striker's Ferrari that had come to grief on a Cheshire road on Sunday. Saha's car, by the way, is a write-off and so is Everton's season.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Howard; Neville (Baxter, 88), Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Coleman (Anichebe, h-t), Arteta, Rodwell, Bilyaletdinov (Beckford, h-t); Osman; Saha. Substitutes not used Mucha (gk), Hibbert, Heitinga, Duffy.
Reading (4-2-3-1): McCarthy; Gunnarsson, Mills, Khizanishvili, Harte; Tabb, Leigertwood; Kébé, McAnuff (Robson-Kanu, 79), Long; Hunt (Church, 86). Substitutes not used Andersen (gk), Karacan, Antonio, Howard, Armstrong.
Referee A Marriner (West Midlands).Reuse content