The lights went out in the main stand and the tunnel before kick off, though no-one needs money for the meter at Goodison. David Moyes, the Everton manager, had lost count of the number of goals his side had scored by the finish. "One of the radio boys said it was five and I was going to say something to him; I'm sure it was six," he reflected.
But there was no uncertainty about the fact that Mikel Arteta is, as Moyes said at the start of weekend, looking like a player who has "lost that feeling that he's been injured for 11 months." Moyes does not believe the Spaniard has time to force himself into national coach Vincente del Bosque's World Cup plans but the midfielder proved – in a more advanced role than he tends to play – that his own bright light is going on again. Arteta's two goals were his first for Everton since the FA Cup fifth round in February last year, capping a contribution which maintains the extraordinary trip they have taken since the desperate 3-2 defeat at Hull last November, after which even Moyes could not dismiss the relegation talk.
Evertonian boos were audible iat the KC Stadium that night, though the only ones sounding here came when Arteta was denied a hat-trick after the cross he dexterously clipped from the byline for Everton's third was not adjudged to have crossed the line before Richard Garcia headed it there. "I've been out for long enough so they have to give it to me," said Arteta, who dedicated his first goal to his son, Gabriel – born last July, when his own battle against cruciate ligament injury remained at its toughest.
"He's still improving all the time and he's not even there yet," Moyes said of Arteta, though Leon Osman was the outstanding player before he strained his groin in the course of contributing to Everton's second goal – gathering and distributing to Victor Anichebe, whose short ball Steven Pienaar rolled under his studs for Arteta to dispatch. Arteta's first involved Osman too; the midfielder distributing to Yakubu Ayegbeni, whose lofted cross Arteta volleyed into the pitch and over Hull goalkeeper Boaz Myhill.
Had Yakubu shown the same presence of mind in front of goal, it might have been worse for Phil Brown's side, though the Nigerian flashed a left-foot shot against Myhill's left post after Osman had squeezed a ball through, then delivered a miserably soft penalty after Kamil Zayatte was adjudged to have felled him.
Profligacy is not a word usually associated with Landon Donovan (left), though, and the immaculate technique he showed in delivering Everton's fourth – striking first time a low Leighton Baines cross, which had skidded 30 yards across the box – offered more evidence of why Moyes will try again this week to extend his loan from LA Galaxy. Donovan's farewell to the Everton fans suggested he will take his bow after next Saturday's trip to Birmingham and Moyes is not overly hopeful. "I think he is going back," he said. A potential strike among Galaxy players may prolong the player's stay.
Donovan reinforced his value with the incisive, first-touch pass which redirected Johnny Heitinga's pass into Jack Rodwell's path for a tap-in. Brown's team actually started the game brightest and rekindled hopes when 19-year-old Tom Cairney fired his first Premier League goal through a crowded penalty area to equalise. But the second-half capitulation reeked of relegation. "Goal difference is going to play a big part and that collapse in the second half is not what is required," Brown said.
Everton (4-1-3-2): Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga; Osman (Rodwell, 44), Arteta, Pienaar (Gosling, 85); Yakubu, Anichebe (Donovan, 70). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Yobo, Bilyaletdinov.
Hull City (4-5-1): Myhill; McShane, Mouyokolo, Zayatte, Kilbane; Garcia, Bullard (Altidore, 62) Boateng, Cairney, Barmby (Geovanni, 60); Zaki (Vennegoor of Hesselink, 69) Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Ghilas, Cooper, Olofinjana.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Booked: Hull Garcia.
Man of the match: Arteta.