Satisfaction at a competent afternoon's work and the point it had achieved vanished as Bolton, strolling off the White Hart Lane pitch, were hit with the news of Fulham's Lazarus act. So one point simply keeps the pot bubbling and Gary Megson will have another few truckloads of chewing gum to go through before he knows whether the club's Premier League place, and possibly his job, are safe for next season.
As for Spurs, their season drifting to its conclusion on a floodtide of 1-1 draws – this was their fourth in succession – there came that announcement that never fails to lift supporters at such times, the signing of a top-class new player. Luka Modric, engine room of the Croatian national team, is poised to become Juande Ramos's biggest signing since he became manager. Spurs are willing to cough up £15.8 million and the man who was watching yesterday from the stands will don the white shirt once what Ramos called "a few things medical" were confirmed. Ramos pronounced himself "delighted" with what is clearly a coup, snatching a player coveted by so many other clubs.
It was a similar coup to snatch Dimitar Berbatov from in front of many admiring eyes two seasons ago, and Ramos did not rule out the Bulgarian providing the finance for any rebuilding at Spurs if a club offered an acceptable fee. That was £30m the last time his possible departure was talked of at the club.
Ramos was, for him, quite agitated at times on the touchline until, towards the end, falling into genial conversation with Megson. This was not, Megson stressed afterwards, an opportunity lost for his team "given the nature of the opposition", but while the relegation dogfight is "so complicated at the moment", he praised the ongoing commitment of his players.
There was a special word for his reserve goalkeeper, the Omani Ali Al-Habsi, drafted in when Jussi Jaaskelainen was ruled out until next season by a back injury. He was competent all through, especially in a frantic finish in time added on.
Bolton packed their midfield with the experienced likes of Ivan Campo, Gavin McCann and Kevin Nolan, and Spurs eventually worked out that the best way to make progress was to run at Bolton's back line from deep. Aaron Lennon also did his best but there was little that Berbatov could feed on in that first half.
Ramos reinstated Radek Cerny and dropped Paul Robinson and, with Michael Dawson and Jonathan Woodgate bedding nicely as a defensive pair, he had little to do in the face of Bolton's familiar barrage of long balls and massive throws.
The interval produced a flurry of substitutions and, in Bolton's case, a result. One of the newcomers, Stelios Giannakopoulos, put them in front with his first touch 24 seconds into the second half. It began with a cross from the Iceland defender Gretar Steinsson, which Dawson failed to clear properly and, with Cerny rooted, Stelios poked the ball over the line while lying on the turf. "We are staying up" chorused the gleeful travelling fans.
Their joy lasted just five minutes before Spurs, revved up by this shock reverse, drew level. Jermaine Jenas, effective in everything he did, supplied Robbie Keane for a low cross to the far post which was turned in by Steed Malbranque. Cue a Spurs revival and a succession of shots which were either repelled by Al-Habsi or missed by their perpetrators. Keane was guilty of the most glaring. Set up by Berbatov, he opted to take the ball to the left rather than pull the trigger immediately, and Al-Habsi was off his line with a fine blocking save. Next the keeper denied Malbranque from almost the exact spot from which he had earlier scored, and Al- Habsi did even better, at full stretch, to turn Berbatov's low drive round the post.
Darren Bent, perhaps short of match practice, put a volley tamely into Al-Habsi's arms before, in added time, seeing a header cleared off the line by Danny Guthrie and Berbatov, of all people, sending a headed chance over the top. So, having clung on for that point, Bolton now have to demonstrate what is their strength, a supreme work rate.Reuse content