The arrival of an international break provides a natural pause for reflection and this draw sums up Everton and Sunderland's league campaigns so far. Both know they could have done better, both recognise things could be worse.
These teams can be put into the solid rather than spectacular category. Everton are hoping to qualify for Europe again and have got to grips with balancing Thursday matches with their domestic schedule. They will be a little disappointed to be lying 10th, but they are only four points off fifth. Sunderland would prefer to be further away from the relegation zone, but at least they are not in it and, if they look ahead, they are only four points off eighth.
Everton looked the more accomplished team, but Sunderland are hard to break down and offer enough threat from set-pieces to have a reasonable chance of taking points in every game.
"I don't think our points reflect the potential we have as a team," said the Everton manager Roberto Martinez. "We are unbeaten since the last international break and we have a mentality that means we can be successful. To concede the first goal in a game like this after playing in Europe on Thursday night, I'm happy with the response. We didn't panic."
Martinez felt his side should have been playing against 10 men. Jordi Gomez was fortunate not to be shown a second yellow card for diving when he threw himself over the leg of Phil Jagielka just minutes after he was harshly booked for tripping Gareth Barry.
The former England international left the pitch on a stretcher - X-rays have shown no bones broken - which may have helped persuade referee Lee Mason to book the Sunderland player. Having shown the first card, though, he should have shown a second for simulation.
Connor Wickham should also have been given a straight red card in the second half for bringing down Seamus Coleman as he prepared to shoot. Leighton Baines converted the spot-kick, after Seb Larsson's beautiful free-kick had given Sunderland the lead, but Martinez was aggrieved and Gus Poyet agreed a red card should have been shown.
"I don't agree with the rule, but it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, he should have been sent off," said Martinez. "Gomez was also lucky as the referee saw he had simulated contact and that is a booking."
Both sides failed to take their chances in the first half. Wickham did not strengthen his case for a large pay rise in his contract negotiations with Sunderland by failing to hit the target with two headers. (© Daily Telegraph, London)