Last Friday David Moyes insisted he did not need to sell players to buy during the January transfer window. It would considerably increase his purchasing power were he to do so, however, and the events of this game appear to make it that much more likely top scorer Marouane Fellaini will depart Everton in the new year.
Issued late on Saturday evening, the Belgium international's apology to Stoke's Ryan Shawcross for head-butting him, to his team-mates and the club's supporters, and to Moyes and his staff, was earnest enough, but the incident and its embarrassing aftermath will surely only strengthen his intention to seek pastures new.
Despite signing a five-year contract last year, Fellaini was reliably reported to have told journalists in his own country last month that he wanted to move in January or at the end of the season. It should be said he subsequently denied the reports, but Chelsea and Paris St-Germain are among his prospective suitors, and having condemned the 25-year-old's lack of discipline in no uncertain words, it may be Moyes will conclude the £30m transfer fee he would command is now worth taking.
Given the butt was one of only three instances in which Fellaini illegally and dangerously expressed his frustration at the manner in which Shawcross was shackling him at Everton corners – and as has become customary in the Premier League, the defender was getting away with blatant holding – a three-match ban is the least he can expect. Having just lost the winger Kevin Mirallas to a recurring hamstring injury, for a club with Champions League aspirations, Moyes's forward options are now limited. With the score at 1-1, Stoke's Tony Pulis could bring on Peter Crouch in an attempt to win the game: Moyes the young midfielder Ross Barkley.
"We know we are certainly short, we don't have an awful lot," said Moyes, after making his dismay at Fellaini's actions clear. "With Kevin Mirallas and Victor Anichebe out, we were very limited, we couldn't change the forward players.
"We have got young players and brought on Ross Barkley but we have not got enough in the forward areas at the moment. We missed Mirallas, who gives us something else."
It was remarkable that the referee Mark Halsey missed all three of Fellaini's misdemeanours, the other two being an elbow and a hand to the face. As he did, however, a Football Association charge of violent conduct will be preferred against Fellaini and is likely to be heard this week.
Moyes was similarly disappointed with his side's overall performance. In the first half Everton had looked good value for a lead fortuitously handed to them when Shawcross glanced Steven Pienaar's cross past his own goalkeeper, and had Leon Osman then converted a wonderful opportunity created for him by Pienaar and the overlapping Leighton Baines, they would surely have gone on to inflict Stoke's first home defeat of the season.
Somehow Osman side-footed wide, and in the second half Stoke both played with more urgency and pressed higher up the field, creating enough chances to win the game comfortably. They converted only one however, Kenwyne Jones directing a header direct from a Shawcross long ball inside Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard's right-hand post for his first league goal since August 2011. Neither Howard, nor the centre-half Phil Jagielka who was marking Jones, distinguished themselves in their attempts to prevent the goal.
"We were in good position and should've made it 2-0 just before half-time but we were never in control of the game , which we have been in previous games," said Moyes. "Even when we went 1-0 up I didn't feel we really got into a rhythm."
Pulis took the opportunity to highlight incidents in previous matches when fouls against Stoke players have gone unpunished, and to praise his players for not over-reacting.
"I would have liked to have seen [what would have happened if] that incident happened to a few other clubs, and a few other players at those clubs. It takes a lot to keep calm in those circumstances. It is not an easy thing to do."
He added Stoke were close to agreeing a new contract with Shawcross, the club captain.
Man of the match Kenwyne Jones (Stoke City)