A nine-match unbeaten run in all competitions since losing to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at the end of December has seen them all but double their Premiership points tally. Now they stand respectably in mid-table, just a point behind Manchester City, who once trailed Chelsea in second at a time when Everton were languishing in the bottom three.
It is easy to forget that until the end of October they had won only one game and were bottom of the League. Villarreal eliminated them from the Champions' League in August and after eight League games they had scored just one goal.
"I think the Champions' League had a lot to do with the start," said David Moyes, the Everton manager. "We came so so close against Villarreal and when you see they went on to top their group and knock Man United out, you see what a good side they are.
"That setback seemed to affect the players who had done so well for us last season. The likes of Kevin Kilbane, Tim Cahill, Leon Osman and to a lesser extent even James Beattie. Now those players are back to form. Every season there's always a team that comes late up the League.
"We've got games left that you would say we have a chance of winning. Let's hope we will be the team that makes a late run," he said.
Everton played with energy and purpose in the opening stages, and were rewarded with David Weir's fortuitous eighth-minute goal. Tim Cahill had met Mikel Arteta's corner and Richard Dunne, playing against his former side, tried to head clear but instead it struck Weir and bobbled into the net.
Dominant for the first half-hour, Everton looked set to improve on their modest attacking record. They have scored just 18 times in the Premiership, and in only two games have they managed more than one goal.
As it was they had to withstand some late pressure as City gradually improved. Georgios Samaras, their £6m signing from Heerenveen making his full debut, wasted their best chance, heading Joey Barton's corner on to the roof of the net. It was not enough.
Their collective frustration at such an anaemic performance was summed up by Stephen Jordan, already cautioned for a foul on Arteta, lunging horribly at Tony Hibbert in injury time. It might have merited a red card in itself and there could be no complaints when he received a second yellow.
Goals: Weir (8) 1-0.
Everton (4-4-1-1): Wright; Hibbert, Weir, Stubbs, Valente; Arteta, Cahill, Neville, Kilbane; Osman (Davies, 82); Beattie (McFadden, 79). Substitutes not used: Turner (gk), Naysmith, Anichebe.
Manchester City (4-4-2): James; Sun Jihai, Dunne, Distin, Jordan; Sinclair, Barton, Musampa, Riera (Cole, 60); Samaras (Sibierski, 76), Vassell (Wright-Phillips, 76). Substitutes not used: Weaver (gk), Richards.
Referee: A Marriner (West Midlands).
Bookings: City Jordan, Barton. Sent off: Jordan.
Man of the match: Neville.
Attendance: 37,827.Reuse content