Between them, Everton and Birmingham City have more injuries than the average A&E ward on a Saturday night and this was a match where their problems were exacerbated. Yet debilitating as the list of casualties at both clubs is, every now and again such clouds provide a silver lining.
In this case, there were two. Both goals were attributable to the mass absenteeism and, while John Heitinga's first strike for Everton deprived Birmingham of a much-needed win, the point they procured enabled them to escape the relegation zone, albeit on goal difference.
After Cameron Jerome failed to clear a corner, Heitinga finished beautifully. Lurking on the edge of the penalty area, his shot allied power and precision to such an extent that Lee Bowyer, jumping on the goalline, still saw the ball sail over his head. "It was a really good goal," said David Moyes, the Everton manager. "It was nearly a sidefoot into the top corner. It didn't surprise me because he's got great technique."
Yet Heitinga was on the pitch only because Phil Neville was sidelined and Everton's midfield was depleted still further when Mikel Arteta pulled up abruptly, clutching his hamstring. The prognosis may be bleak: the Spaniard sported crutches when he was in an executive box. "That was a big blow," Moyes said. "I knew if we didn't have him we would struggle to create too much."
That proved prescient. Admittedly, Ben Foster was occupied by Seamus Coleman's diving header, Jermaine Beckford's shot and Leon Osman's long-range curler, while Jordon Mutch flung himself in the path of a Louis Saha drive, but a winner eluded Everton. They have now failed to beat any of the bottom five at home.
"A very solid rearguard performance," Alex McLeish, the Birmingham manager, said. "Sometimes you need to get points in an ugly fashion and the players showed the tremendous resilience they have. It was a battling point."
His side were on the back foot for the most part and McLeish said: "We never really got enough efforts at Everton's goal [in the] second half." Nor was Tim Howard overworked before then, although the Everton goalkeeper did spare Saha the embarrassment of an own goal.
That Birmingham led was an indirect consequence of a groin problem David Bentley sustained in the warm-up, which later curtailed his involvement. Initially employed on the left flank, Jean Beausejour was relocated to operate in the slipstream of Jerome, the sole striker. "He played in that role against the Spanish in the World Cup and he played against Sergio Busquets, the Barcelona player and had a decent game," McLeish said.
His homework on the Chilean proved beneficial. In his more advanced role, Beausejour leapt to head in Mutch's chipped cross, connecting with sufficient force that, though Tim Howard got a hand to it, he was unable to prevent the ball crossing the line.
Another influential stand-in, the 19-year-old Mutch was only playing because Barry Ferguson, Craig Gardner and Keith Fahey were all ruled out. However, his second league start for Birmingham was eventful.
The referee, Peter Walton, waved an imaginary yellow card at the midfielder and it later emerged the veteran official had forgotten to pack the tools of his trade in the first half. However, deprived of some of the aces in their respective packs, the two managers could nonetheless reflect that they had played their remaining cards right.