Maybe Fabio Capello's trip to Goodison Park was not a wasted journey after all. Having journeyed to Merseyside on Saturday, the England coach saw Phil Jagielka's typically industrious performance at the heart of the Everton defence ruined by Sylvan Ebanks-Blake's late equaliser.
Leighton Baines, who was selected in Capello's provisional squad of 30 for the World Cup before being left behind, was average while the highly rated 19-year-old Jack Rodwell, who captained England to victory over Uzbekistan in an Under-21 friendly two weeks ago, did not make it on to the field. But if Capello's mission was to check out Mikel Arteta, Everton's Spanish playmaker, his trip north may have proved fruitful, provided opposition to an overseas footballer – albeit naturalised – playing for England could be overcome.
In an interview in Saturday's matchday programme, the former Real Sociedad player seemed to suggest his chances of playing for Spain are as distant as ever. "It has been difficult for me and it will continue to be," he said. "Spain have just won the World Cup so it will be tough for any player to try to take one of the places in the team."
Arteta's manager, David Moyes, will be concerned with why his side have once again started another campaign in sluggish fashion. Unlike last season, there are no outside influences or injuries to blame this time. At least they have one point on the board after a scrappy performance against a Wolverhampton team that has just one aim this season – to maintain their top-flight status.
This was not a game to whet the appetite for the nine months ahead, not that that will bother the Wolverhampton manager, Mick McCarthy. In a game that attracted special interest from fans in the United States, McCarthy saw his side show their teeth and secure a precious point after a fine breakaway involving substitute Adlene Guedioura and Kevin Doyle was neatly finished off by Ebanks-Blake.
McCarthy said: "We got up the pitch and got in their faces and I thought we deserved a point. We were hopeless in the first half and that is my responsibility because I was trying to stop them playing and fiddling around with the team – none of which worked."
Tim Howard and Marcus Hahnemann, the two United States goalkeepers, embraced at the end but it was obvious who was more pleased. "Goodison is a tough place so this is a great point for us," said Wolves' Hahnemann, Howard's deputy on international duty. "We stayed up last year, but didn't have a great start. This season we've turned it around with a great win last weekend and another good point here. We have such a young team but they all have that Premier League experience now which helps you figure out how to get draws out of games."
Everton 4-4-1-1: Howard; Hibbert, Distin, Jagielka, Baines; Bilyaletdinov (Osman, 83), Heitinga (Fellaini, 82), Arteta, Pienaar; Cahill; Beckford (Saha, 71). Substitutes not used Mucha (gk), Rodwell, Gueye, Coleman.
Wolverhampton 4-4-2: Hahnemann; Foley, Craddock, Berra, Elokobi (Guedioura, 53); Jarvis, Henry, Jones (Halford, 71), Ward; Ebanks-Blake (Stearman, 89), Doyle. Substitutes not used Hennessey (gk), Keogh, Zubar, Milijas.
Booked Elokobi, Halford.
Man of the match Cahill.
Possession Everton 61% Wolves 39%
Shots on target Everton 6, Wolves 4.
Referee L Mason.......... Attendance 37, 767.
Match rating 5/10.