AN instant response from Steven Naismith and Everton saw Manchester City cede ground to Chelsea in their increasingly tense race for the Premier League title, but manager Manuel Pellegrini knows solutions are just around the corner.
City, who squandered a 75th-minute lead handed to them by Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho, ultimately paid the price for failing to convert one of numerous chances they carved out during a first half in which they were aided equally by a gale-force wind and Evertonian nerves.
Stevan Jovetic was prime culprit, failing to hit the target with any of three promising openings that were carved out for him by the ever-impressive David Silva.
But it will be considerable consolation for the City manager as he analyses an afternoon in which his reigning champions fell two points behind Jose Mourinho, that the draw saw 19-goal Sergio Aguero return from a five-week injury lay-of.
"We dominated the game, especially the first half, and had clear-cut chances," said Pellegrini. "But when you don't score those chances, it's difficult to win.
"It is important for the team that Sergio is back. He just worked two or three days with the squad this week, now he has the whole week to continue working. I hope he will return to the same performance he had before he was injured, in a few days.
"Every team will drop points from now until the end of the season, we never thought before the game that this was going to be easy. Every time you come to Goodison Park it is difficult and last year was the first time we won here in five times. Maybe it was a good draw but I cannot forget about the first 45 minutes, we had too many clear chances."
City could also do with the return of club captain Vincent Kompany. In his absence, Eliaquim Managala has done little to justify the £42m that City paid for him last summer and, again on this occasion, he struggled to contain a lively Romelu Lukaku, finally rediscovering the threat that made him such a key figure in Everton's success last term.
The all-round defensive efforts put forth by City for the Everton equaliser were a collective disaster as Joe Hart was beaten to Leighton Baines' left-flank free-kick by Naismith who lost his marker Pablo Zabaleta to steer a solid headed finish into the goal.
That cancelled out Fernandinho's opening goal - one not without controversy as Everton appealed furiously for an offside, although manager Roberto Martinez was honest enough to concede afterwards that referee Martin Atkinson was correct.
Samir Nasri created space for David Silva whose blocked shot rose from Everton bodies and hung kindly for Fernandinho to head past Seamus Coleman's poor attempted clearance.
That goal seemed likely to earn City the three points that their first half dominance had made appear inevitable.
With Silva pulling the strings, City created a long catalogue of chances - mostly for the misfiring Jovetic although Jesus Navas should also have done better after 14 minutes than roll an attempt wide when played in, inevitably, by Silva.
Yet the best chance of that opening period fell to the home team as Lukaku surged past Mangala with embarrassing ease only to be denied by Hart's outstretched boot, with Coleman striking the rebound against the crossbar from 20 yards just before the interval.
The home side, on their worst run of league form in a decade, were much improved after the restart, with Lukaku again forcing Hart into a solid save and then being on the wrong end of a hairline offside decision against Naismith as Jagielka netted from a Baines free-kick.
"I felt the reaction and the character we showed at 1-0 down was special," said Martinez. "The reaction on Tuesday and the reaction we showed today showed the character of the group and is a perfect platform to build for the second half of the season." Telegraph