Everton, however, are plumbing new depths. A sixth successive defeat, with just one goal scored all season, says it all for a side in desperate need of something, anything, right now. What they definitely did not need was to hand Spurs both their headed goals through inept defending.
It was a footballing suicide and, on a mid-October afternoon when temperatures in north London hit the 70s, the heat is on the manager, David Moyes. He was measured enough afterwards though he admitted that it was hard not to be "down" because of the predicament.
"And there was no need for a crossfield pass," he said, referring to Joseph Yobo's wildly ambitious punt that surrendered possession in the second half when Everton were in control. The ball was shunted to Jermaine Jenas who picked out Mido. Unmarked, he headed beyond goalkeeper Nigel Martyn. On the touchline, Moyes was apoplectic. Afterwards he added: "In the situation we are in you hope to do the basics right." His players didn't. And they paid the price.
Perhaps they also paid for Moyes' decision to deploy a lone striker. It handed the initiative to Spurs, who could have scored in the first half from two thumping Michael Dawson headers. Martyn pushed the first away, the second struck the midriff of Nuno Valente on the goal-line.
Spurs' main hope was from the composed trickery of 18-year-old Aaron Lennon. "He's so mature," said the head coach, Martin Jol, "it's scary." Lennon scared Valente but was not too well served by his team-mates.
Everton had their own moments. James McFadden evaded three half-hearted challenges and struck a fierce drive which Paul Robinson beat away while Jenas had to lunge and block a half-volley from Kevin Kilbane. But, in truth, it was disjointed. Neither side exerted enough control. Jol could blame that on youth, and the need for his side to blend. For Moyes it was far more critical. He says he has good players but they are not showing that at present.
"I said before today that we start again," Moyes said, hoping to use the international break as a watershed. It failed. After Martyn blocked Jermain Defoe's angled shot, Yobo had his mad moment. One down, Everton pushed, only to be hit almost immediately with a second.
This time Mido headed on to Defoe who cut inside from the left and was given time to look up and float a centre for Jenas to head in his first goal since his £7m transfer from Newcastle United. It was only his second goal in a year and a half. "I think there will be a lot more coming from him because he's a big talent," said Jol contentedly. The Dutchman, who is nevertheless keen to temper expectation, has many in a team for whom Michael Carrick returned and Ledley King, a player Jol ranks as England's best central defender, was assured.
Moyes threw on Duncan Ferguson and he immediately forced a fine tip-over from Robinson. It could have made a difference with Moyes admitting that even a goal, never mind a point, could have lifted his players. They got neither.Reuse content