A combination of luck and the occasional smattering of quality meant Everton ran out 3-1 winners against Queens Park Rangers and moved into the top half of the table.
Three goals and three final touches off opposing players are a clear indication of fortune favouring the home side, though said fortune did run out when Kevin Mirallas departed on a stretcher after Jordan Mutch's unsightly lunge. The injury is a blow for a player climbing above the stuttering team performances of late. There is a constant freedom evident in his game, and Mirallas has excelled since his return from injury.
Adding the second goal on the night, albeit with a sizeable deflection, Mirallas has contributed to five goals in his past five matches; he scored three and assisted two others. The hope is this latest setback is not serious, for the sake of the player and the team he has almost singlehandedly woken from slumber.
If luck arrived by way of visiting players diverting shots in midflight, then the quality arose from Everton's youthful, makeshift central midfield. Without four central midfielders, this key area appeared one of possible weakness, an area the visitors could target via their three-man midfield setup.
Credit, then, to Muhamed Besic and Ross Barkley for turning this potential concern into the strongest department on the night and the platform for victory. The young duo displayed maturity beyond their years throughout, and they outperformed and outmaneuvered the visitors with regularity.
Tigerish in the tackle, Besic refused to quit. Even when he appeared spent, he was soon back harassing the red and black shirts facing him. A moment near his own goal in the second half epitomised his industry. As the visitors pressed down the left, Besic shuffled across to support Seamus Coleman near the corner flag. Seconds later, the Bosnian was dispossessing an opponent on the edge of the penalty area. Just like that, in the blink of eye, he had done the work of two with relative ease.
His work rate, tackling and all-action display gave Barkley the freedom to stamp his quality on proceedings. Continuing in the deeper position he featured in against Manchester City, Barkley delivered exactly what many expected while also showing previously unseen discipline on the defensive side, winning tackles and blocking QPR's path to goal.
Nonetheless, it was on the front foot that the young midfielder delivered a telling reminder why his talents remain best served in central areas. His tension-easing thunderbolt was a microcosm of the talent he offers. The turn and touch took QPR's central midfield out of the game in an instant, and then the one-two with Romelu Lukaku quickened the pace, as Barkley powered toward goal and unleashed a rocket beyond Robert Green.
It arrived at a crucial time, too, as the nervy hosts had not convinced prior to Barkley's intervention. They did not convince in the closing stages, either, as another questionable contribution from Tim Howard saw Bobby Zamora grab a consolation for Harry Redknapp's side.
This slightly edgy finish led to a rather unfortunate, astonishing occurrence whereby a small section of the crowd began to boo players passing backward when well placed farther forward.
Booing is forever a hotly debated topic among supporters, but so long as fans continue to pay for tickets, it is their right to do so, should they wish. That did little to make sense of this bizarre episode.
When the Toffees found themselves booed off after the 1-1 draw at home to Hull, there was a degree of understanding. Even if you did not agree, you could see why others felt compelled to vent their displeasure at such a poor display.
In this instance, though, with key personnel absent and a team on the brink of only their third home success in a season marred by injury and inconsistency, such a reaction felt like madness. Booing a side minutes from a two-goal victory is like a spoiled, rich kid complaining his new Ferrari is the wrong color.
Results are an obvious factor, with several home (and away) disappointments leading to noticeable tension on the terraces, especially in the early stages of matches firmly in the balance, but there is no excuse for hostility toward retention of the football.
As frustrating and laborious as periods of this match became, three points was always the priority on the checklist. Style cannot always triumph over substance, particularly when without key personnel in midfield and defence. Enough of this season has elapsed to confirm the Blues struggle without certain players.
One such example, surfacing again here, is how the football rarely flows as freely without John Stones in the team. There is little secret that the current defensive axis of Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Howard is not conducive to the style of play adopted by Martinez.
Jagielka and Distin look short of confidence and comfortable only when passing between slowly and shortly themselves, so it is on those in front to provide the necessary options. Besic and Barkley did their bit; others must up their game.
There is reason behind criticism of the lack of movement leading to a backward pass -- feel free to shout at those not working hard enough to influence the game -- but let us not start booing players keeping possession.
Booing the style of play that led to a record points total and various club records in Roberto Martinez's excellent debut season is unjustifiable. If there are problems and factors behind a jittery opening to this season, the passing approach is not one of them.
After years of crying out for a more pleasing, eye-catching style of play, those same supporters are now belittling the very approach they spent years yearning for. The mind boggles, it truly does.