This result was as much about the players who weren't there at various parts of the game, as the ones who were. For the hosts, there was no Ledley King, Luka Modric, no Jermain Defoe or, in the last act, no Aaron Lennon. Harry Redknapp, a year in charge of Tottenham but understandably failing to raise a cheerful note after this defeat, despite the improvements in that time, mentioned them all by name.
If Redknapp had his absentees, so did his opposite number. Tony Pulis was presented with the sight of his first-choice goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen vomiting in the dressing-room before kick-off, which meant his replacement, Steve Simonsen, had only 20 minutes to get ready.
Then, allied to Simonsen's impressive saves, came the match-winning contribution of another of those players not there from the start. Glenn Whelan came on for Rory Delap and followed Ricardo Fuller upfield. The Jamaican ran through some soft defending and found his team-mate; with one sweet swing of his right foot from 12 yards, Whelan beat Heurelho Gomes at his far post.
It meant that two players had, in effect, come off the bench for Stoke and inspired them to victory, hinting at more resources than most people give the Potters credit for. It also showed that Spurs, for all their squad building, still rely on a triumvirate of key players. Having failed to take any of their chances in the first half, for which Simonsen – and the post – took the credit, Tottenham tailed off. When Whelan tackled Aaron Lennon forcing him off after 76 minutes it left the hosts with 10 men. Redknapp had already made his three substitutions and he failed to convince his winger to stay on.
Stoke had only created one chance, early in the first half, which led to Jonathan Woodgate departing injured. The timely combination of Fuller and Whelan inflicted further pain on Tottenham's battered squad.
Tottenham Hotspur (4-4-2): Gomes; Corluka, Woodgate (Dawson, 15), Bassong, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Huddlestone (Jenas, 71), Palacios, Kranjcar; Keane (Pavlyuchenko, 63), Crouch. Substitutes not used: Cudicini (gk), Hutton, Bale, Naughton
Stoke City (4-4-2): Simonsen; Wilkinson, Shawcross, Faye, Collins; Delap (Whelan, 57), Whitehead, Diao, Etherington; Beattie (Tuncay, 70), Fuller (Higginbotham, 90). Substitutes not used: Lawrence, Kitson, Pugh, Cort
Referee: L Probert (Wiltshire)
Booked: Stoke Fuller, Whelan, Diao
Man of the match: Simonsen