David Moyes certainly had in mind the example set by Liverpool when he remarked, without naming the neighbours, that football has a habit of producing unexpected twists, "as we saw a few months ago". By the loaves-and-fishes standards of Istanbul, Everton need only a minor miracle in the Madrigal Stadium. The problem is not only the sheer excellence of Villarreal, but the limitations of his own squad.
Goodison Park witnessed a sharp dichotomy in styles. Everton offered the traditional British attributes: ferocious tackling, tireless running and a barrage of high balls. Villarreal, deploying eight South Americans, an Italian and even the odd Spaniard, trusted in adhesive touch, precision passing and movement of a more economical kind.
Such finesse is not foreign to Everton, the one-time "School of Soccer Science". In the first leg of this tie, however, it was largely the exclusive preserve of Villarreal, whose Argentinian playmaker Juan Riquelme displayed what older Goodison devotees might term a golden vision. They were often as good as their record - third behind Barcelona and Real Madrid - suggested.
Moyes seemed convinced that the flip side of such class would be fallibility in the air. After the opening goal, clinically taken by Luciano Figueroa, the ploy did produce James Beattie's equaliser, only for Josico to bullet home a 16-yard header minutes later. Everton should have been running down the clock to half-time before the decisive thrust, but Villarreal had the European nous they lacked.
Everton must now hope against hope that Villarreal feel the job is done. They will not go quietly - too much effort went into earning a tilt at the Champions' League for that - and in Phil Neville, who had an influential debut after signing from Manchester United, they possess a player who has shared in more than one turnaround of the kind Moyes now craves.
l Per Kroldrup, Everton's £5m defender from Udinese, who was an unused substitute on Tuesday, may require surgery on a groin injury.Reuse content