IT WAS during the second melee between the Everton and West Ham players it become clear that this would not be the much-anticipated game for purists.
Referee Mark Clattenburg was a portrait of calm as multiple shoves were exchanged following feisty challenges on Morgan Amalfitano, one in each half, by James McCarthy and Kevin Mirallas.
Many held their breath anticipating a brawl.
In fact it was invigorating to see two sides unwilling to concede an inch. No one was hurt, the only punches thrown were verbal and a sleepy crowd was stimulated.
Too often the obsession with imposing a stylish brand of football is an excuse for playing the game with a lack of competitive edge.
Sam Allardyce and Roberto Martinez must have been thrilled by how much their players were up for this.
Everton edged it by playing as direct as they have under Martinez and, while the pre-match discussion focused on whether the return of Andy Carroll would see West Ham revert to 'Plan A' it was the Merseyside club who compromised most.
No wonder Martinez took delight in his "most satisfying win of the season".
Everton's willingness to bully as much as beguile is typified by Romelu Lukaku, who has been searching for his best form.
Lukaku was the bargain of the season when on loan last season, but his £28m transfer fee has been questioned in the first few months of this one.
He is improving, although his opening goal here should have been ruled out for offside.
"Nobody else in our squad can give us what he gives," Martinez said.
"He's someone who holds the ball. He's got power, he's got pace, he is a clinical footballer driving the ball.
"His potential is immense. He wants to become the best striker in the world and he's got the potential to do that. Whatever money we spent, it was well spent."
It was the introduction of another striker, Samuel Eto'o, that made the difference, his majesty creating the winner for Leon Osman on his 400th appearance for Everton.
Allardyce bemoaned refereeing decisions, but there was also plenty to satisfy him and, with Carroll back looking leaner and fitter he has plenty of striking options.
They looked more likely winners until Osman's well-timed sprint for the winner.
Both sides will play a better brand of football than this in the months to come, but their managers will hope to bottle the commitment.
Allardyce and his players were left fuming over Everton's opening goal which saw Ross Barkley's shot deflect off Winston Reid into the path of Lukaku who was offside from the moment the ball was struck.
However, with no hint of a flag the Belgium international rammed home his 21st goal in 50 appearances for the Toffees.
"He is offside, there is no doubt about it," said West Ham captain Kevin Nolan, who as a result of a growing injury list made his first start since the opening day of the season.
Everton have not been entirely comfortable holding on to a lead this season and so it proved four minutes after Mauro Zarate came off the bench in the second half when the Argentinian's strike ballooned up off defender Phil Jagielka to leave Tim Howard helpless.
However, the home side rallied and from a swift counter-attack Osman converted Eto'o's cross to cap a perfect end to his landmark afternoon. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
CHELSEA are reportedly considering a £25 million move for Everton's Irish international full-back, Seamus Coleman, writes Garry Doyle.
The English Premier League leaders have drawn up a shopping list of potential recruits to replace defenders John Terry and Branislav Ivanovic.
At 26, Coleman is viewed as a definite option to fill their right-back void, although there remains some distance between a speculative link emerging from both Liverpool and London yesterday and a concrete bid.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that Roberto Martinez is looking at possible alternatives should Coleman be sold.
Increasing Martinez's stress is the news that Inter Milan have placed James McCarthy on their radar, although it seems clear that, if McCarthy is sweetened by a new, improved contract, then reports linking him with moves out of Liverpool will decrease.
Closer to home, Dundalk are closing in on Shamrock Rovers midfielder Ronan Finn, Carlisle United are on the verge of signing Limerick striker Rory Gaffney, Limerick are hoping to add UCD goalkeeper Conor O'Donnell to their squad, Sligo look set to outbid St Pat's to land Limerick's Stephen Folan and Drogheda have failed to persuade Trevor Croly to become their new boss.
Elsewhere, former Sligo striker Eamon Zayed is on his way to Malaysia to sign for Sabah FA, while Derry City have signed Cillian Morrison from Cork and Shaun Patton from Finn Harps, who could also lose Michael Duffy to Celtic.