For Manchester City, there was an unhappy sense of deja vu. They have encountered more problems with Everton under Roberto Mancini's reign than any other team and, once again, there was the distinct feeling that this is increasingly the fixture they look forward to the least.
It is becoming a recurring theme because, by now, Everton can produce a thick portfolio of evidence for the right to be known as City's bogey club. They were the last team to win at the City of Manchester Stadium, going back almost two years.
Only two other sides, Sunderland and Arsenal, have taken anything from this ground since, but David Moyes's men give the impression they get an extra motivation from showing they can cope against a team of greater riches and depth. This was the seventh encounter between Mancini and Moyes and the Italian has won just one, losing five.
Moyes was also convinced that record could be steeped even more in his favour, arguing vehemently that City should not have been awarded the 43rd-minute penalty from which Carlos Tevez scored their equaliser. "I don't know how many penalties they've had in their home games recently," he said conspiratorially, "but it's quite a few."
The inference was clear and it was certainly an unusual set of events that created the bad feeling. On first viewing, it had seemed as though Marouane Fellaini had been penalised for a tug at Edin Dzeko's sleeve. Moyes, however, offered a different slant. "The information we got was that it was a foul by Leon Osman. It was a pull by Osman, the fourth official told us."
Yet Osman, as Moyes noted, was not within six feet of the nearest opponent. Fellaini was, however, taking a risk, which diminishes Everton's grievances, but it could also be argued that Dzeko was using his hands as they jostled for position. "It's not a penalty kick, that's the first thing," Moyes said. "Even if he's claiming it's Fellaini it's not a penalty kick, nowhere near a penalty kick. They've had quite a few here recently and that one was easy. If you're going to give them goals, it can't be like that."
Fellaini had given Everton a 33rd-minute lead with his eighth goal of the season and, at that stage, they had been the better side. The goal originated on the left, with Leighton Baines breaking forward and delivering a peach of a cross that flicked off Vincent Kompany's head, inadvertently reaching Fellaini at the far post. His twisting header brought a reflex save from Joe Hart but Fellaini was first to the rebound and bundled it over the line with his knee.
Mancini had started this match with Dzeko partnering Tevez, but the Bosnian had a poor match and seems to have a more positive impact when he plays as a substitute. Tevez was also below his best but there was an angry reaction from the crowd when Mancini replaced him with substitute Sergio Aguero – and kept on Dzeko.
"I had my reasons," an unimpressed Mancini explained. "I'm not stupid. I understand the supporters – if I put on four strikers and take off four defenders they are happy. But football isn't like that. Sometimes you need your attackers to help you defend, especially when you play a team like Everton who are good at set-pieces."
Fellaini's aerial presence had almost conjured up a second Everton goal just before half-time only for Hart to turn it around the post. City improved after the break, but David Silva faded, Yaya Toure toiled with little effect and Samir Nasri was even more ineffectual.
The champions had come across a team that fought for every ball, and the best chance of the second half was at the other end of the pitch. This time Hart was not convincing at all in the way he dealt with Nikica Jelavic's free-kick, and City were grateful that nobody was following in to put away the rebound.