When the draw was made last night for the quarter-finals of the League Cup, Spurs fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were still in it.
That they are not owed itself to three minutes of pure inspiration from Norwich, overturning a Tottenham lead that Gareth Bale had deservedly given them. Somehow, and most improbably, it was Norwich who prevailed with two late goals and a penalty save.
The drama of the final minutes was a stark contrast to the sedateness that had preceded it.
A curling-shot was saved by Mark Bunn, before Jake Livermore's low cross was almost turned in at the near post. Before long, Marc Tierney's every other glance was a nervous search for Bale's run. So persistent was the threat that Jonny Howson was forced into a covering role, dropping back to plug the gaps whenever Bale gained possession.
Steve Morison's sharp header was caught at the near post by the returning Hugo Lloris, a goalkeeper who could seemingly get into any first XI except his own. Howson tried a volley from 25 yards that whistled just wide.
Bale switched back to the left in the second half, with similar results.
On 53 minutes, he wasted a fine chance to break the deadlock, and five minutes later, Yago Falque went for glory himself with a curling shot, and very nearly attained it. But Bale's persistence was rewarded as he managed to squirm clear of David Fox and tuck a shot past Bunn from 20 yards.
Yet Tottenham have been nothing if not apprehensive when ahead this season, and inspired by the skittish Simeon Jackson, introduced soon after the goal, Norwich rallied.
Andre Villas-Boas responded predictably, bringing on a defender, Jan Vertonghen for midfielder Tom Carroll. Norwich introduced their talisman Grant Holt.
It was Tottenham's familiar failings that ultimately cost them. They failed to clear Robert Snodgrass' corner seven minutes from time, and substitute Alex Tettey's low shot drilled in from 20 yards was good enough to scuttle through a sea of legs.
The French goalkeeper, so impressive to that point, was at fault for the winner, fumbling Holt's header and allowing Jackson to blast the ball home.
And yet this superb game still had more to offer us. Tierney tripped Kyle Walker; referee Jon Moss deliberated for a few seconds before awarding the penalty.
Dempsey went for placement, scuffing the ball low to Bunn's left. The roars said it all. (© Daily Telegraph, London)