In normal circumstances victors will be affronted if the losers get all the attention. That, however, is just one aspect of derby fixtures that differs from normal life in football. Much as the home support will prize a victory over Arsenal, which came thanks to Kyle Walker's first goal for the club, they will also revel in schadenfreude since the attempt should have been saved by the goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Tottenham are five points ahead of Arsenal in the Premier League with a game in the hand. That lead may not count for much in the longer term but this result reinforced the belief that brittleness is even more conspicuous than usual at Arsenal. Arsène Wenger's team have been beaten before on this derby occasion but each defeat this season feels significant and ominous.
While resilience may have been lacking, Arsenal could be befuddled nowadays by that fact that it is other teams who pose the threat. It is not very long ago that Wenger's side would have days when they would demoralise opponents as much as they defeated them. One of the punishments for mediocrity is the fact that the club still cannot escape the thought of missing talent now that Samir Nasri and Cesc Fábregas are gone.
It was noted that Wenger did not shake hands with the Tottenham assistant coach Clive Allen at full time but that missing piece of protocol does not matter in the least when followers of the club wonder when the side will take a grip of events. Arsenal have been beaten in four of their seven Premier League fixtures. All the same, it would be wrong to dwell on the losers when there was so much to be appreciated in the victors.
This win should be remembered most of all for the promise it held for Spurs. They were superior in all areas and the authority will be all the more marked if Ledley King, a great influence from his post at centre-back, can fulfil his ambition of appearing more regularly despite the knee problems that have threatened to be the context for his entire career. Even so, Scott Parker, in his defensive midfield role, may have been the most important factor in the outcome.
White Hart Lane is inflamed by the thought of new beginnings. Tottenham were not merely bold. They had a belligerence that suggested they were in a hurry to emphasis their intention of replacing Arsenal as the leading club in north London.
Emmanuel Adebayor, a forward on the books of the visitors as recently as two years ago, had the air of a footballer determined to show that his loan move from Manchester City to Tottenham was not a backward step.
He certainly made an impression here by chipping the ball to Rafael van der Vaart, who controlled it with his chest before shooting home as Spurs took the lead in the 40th minute.
Some in the Arsenal ranks believed that the arm of the Dutchman had also been involved but the referee, Mike Dean, saw no offence. Adebayor had given a riposte to the chants directed at him by Tottenham supporters.
The match was entertaining rather than merely antagonistic. Openings were found by both sides, although the frantic tone ensured for a while that there would nearly always be some small flaw. A ball from Gareth Bale after 19 minutes was fractionally misdirected and therefore Van der Vaart could not quite get his shot on target.
Arsenal may have been far from cowed but they were inclined to be wasteful either by misdirecting their chances or making it too simple for Brad Friedel to keep a clean sheet in the first half. Gervinho tried to trick him by aiming for the small space at the near post in the 29th minute and missed the posts entirely.
The second half opened with Arsenal playing in a more concerted manner and Spurs could not contain them. Younès Kaboul sent a clearing header to the opposition's left flank and Kieran Gibbs's low cross was then turned home by Aaron Ramsey for the equaliser in the 51st minute. The occasion still contained the instability of a derby fixture, though, and Tottenham would have regained the lead sooner had Szczesny not tipped Adebayor's shot behind following a through ball from Van der Vart.
The insistence of Harry Redknapp's side was rewarded when the long-range effort by Walker eluded Szczesny. Spurs had enough control and organisation to hold tight to their lead. It does feel as if they are a club in the throes of change. That brings troubles of its own as opponents start to respond by taking a deeper interest in them than before. It has to be borne in mind, too, that the imperfections are sufficiently marked to leave them with a 5-1 beating by Manchester City.
Roberto Mancini's club do have means that appear almost limitless, yet Tottenham have to set their minds to competing with such opponents. That will invite stress of its own and Redknapp will be busy trying to shrink expectations. He cannot succeed entirely, though, when the White Hart Lane crowd is awash with anticipation.