Manchester City seemed to be rubbing it in when they plastered Joleon Lescott's image across the front of the match programme but retribution was as rich as David Moyes could possibly have hoped, when it came.
At around 10pm last night he encountered Roberto Mancini outside the main Eastlands lift and you imagine that in the few moments they waited there Moyes must have been tempted to make an allusion to which of them was going up in the world or whether he, the impoverished one, ought to be taking the service lift. It was the kind of encounter Moyes probably rehearsed many times amid the unvarnished fury he felt at losing Lescott for £24m to Mancini's predecessor Mark Hughes last August. Instead, after several moments of waiting they gave up on the lift and walked away and the full depths of Moyes' delight were reserved for the press room moments later.
"We had a terrible start to the season and a lot of that was to do with Manchester City," Moyes said, reinforcing the sense of indignation he feels at the Premier League's monied arrivistes. "They spent to get where we'd been last year." Then he checked his exuberance. "Its lovely we've won but I want to come here with a bit of dignity and class."
Moyes had spoken before the game of the quality of a "collective" spirit which time, and not money, can buy and that was encapsulated in the way Everton defended in serried ranks, always possessing a covering defender when Carlos Tevez – the one individual in a different class to all others – threatened to get through. They broke away and caught sight of goal twice and scored on each occasion, the deliverers being Tim Cahill and Mikel Arteta – who cost less than £4m the pair and are archetypes of the team that Moyes has built.
The goals encapsulated the scorers' respective qualities of steel and silk – Cahill's hard-running winning a free-kick from Gareth Barry which, after Arteta had played it short to the trusty left boot of Leighton Baines, he rose through a crowded area to head home. Five minutes from time, after Jack Rodwell had gone past Vincent Kompany, Cahill dummied his low cross and Arteta stroked home elegantly.
The worry for Mancini, whose side's undefeated home record has gone, is that his team offered nothing of that sort. Stephen Ireland limped off with a shin injury five minutes before the break, a cruel blow to a player who had not seen action since last month's dispiriting FA Cup exit at Stoke and who has not played a full 90 minutes this year. "I don't know if it's a big injury," Mancini said last night but of all the players who has lost his dazzle since the Italian's arrival, Ireland is the most striking.
For all their spending, City already rely heavily on Adam Johnson and when he didn't fire either, the options ran out. This was nothing new. The statistic which said Mancini was on his longest unbeaten run at City – six games – did not explain the good fortune at Sunderland and edginess at Fulham. Mancini talked away his spat with Moyes last night but the first sense of lost control from him compounds the feeling that he has much work to do.
"Lescott, Lescott, what's the score," was among the choruses which rang around a half-deserted stadium before the end. The defender, out for five weeks, looked on helplessly. For Moyes, whose side now sit three points behind Liverpool and Aston Villa with comfortably the easiest run in, this was vengeance indeed.
Manchester City (4-2-3-1) Given; Richards (Vieira, 75), Toure, Kompany, Zabaleta; Barry, De Jong; Johnson (Santa Cruz, 57), Ireland (Wright-Phillips, 41), Bellamy; Tevez. Substitutes not used: Taylor (gk), Onuoha, Garrido, Sylvinho.
Everton (4-1-4-1) Howard; Neville, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; Heitinga; Osman, Arteta (Yobo, 90), Cahill, Pienaar; Saha (Rodwell, 72). Substitutes not used: Nash (gk), Hibbert, Bilyaletdinov, Gosling, Yakubu.
Referee: P Walton (Northants).
Booked: Man City Tevez, Given, De Jong; Everton Pienaar, Heitinga.
Man of the match: Cahill.