Roberto Martínez's crash course in life as an Evertonian has come courtesy of the DVDs of the club's past he is watching eagerly. Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini have benefited from a more extensive education. If David Moyes fails to prise his two targets from his old club's clutches, perhaps their long-time teacher may reflect that he taught them too well.
"They have got incredible values as Evertonians and they are fantastic ambassadors for the club," said the new manager Martínez, who is undergoing a learning process himself. "I've been trying to get through the history of the club and understand what Everton means."
It involves studying his predecessor's reign. Everton's modern-day identity owes much to Moyes: his soundbite – "the people's club" – has survived the Scot's departure and is displayed all around Goodison Park. In football's increasingly individualistic, money-orientated culture, Moyes attempted to imbue his charges with old-fashioned decency and a sense of loyalty.
In a world where others boasted greater resources, Everton compensated with character. And so, while Manchester United's £28m joint bid for Fellaini and Baines has been rejected, Martínez has had few of the problems his counterparts have encountered when their prized assets are coveted. "What you get in this dressing-room is people who don't want to let each other down," he said.
Tim Howard, himself a former United player, provided a more blunt appraisal. "What I will say is that Felli and Baines have been brilliant," the American goalkeeper said, drawing a comparison with unsettled players elsewhere. "Other clubs have got some idiots who don't turn up to training or train with the reserves."
Everton delivered a statement of their own by selecting Fellaini and Baines and, if neither was quite at his best, their effort went unquestioned. If Moyes's growling defiance was more intimidating during his 11-year spell in charge, Martínez is bringing a smiling stubbornness to Goodison Park.
Yet obstinacy was not confined to the home side's ranks on Saturday. West Bromwich Albion were resolute in keeping their clean sheet; the goalkeeper Ben Foster justified the manager Steve Clarke's decision to build from the back. "When I came in last summer my first job was that the club spent the right amount of money to get him on a permanent deal," said the Scot.
While Foster, before departing early with an ankle injury, excelled, he was also well shielded. It prompted the question: is Martínez's trademark passing game sufficiently incisive? His Wigan team, as eternal underdogs, were rarely confronted by the massed ranks of opposing defences but he is adamant his methods can work in such circumstances.
"It's an experience I've had previously and I enjoy," he said. "At Swansea early on we used to have 10 players plus the bus and the coach driver on the pitch trying to block us." While it is not in Martínez's nature to be negative, the next roadblock at Goodison Park could be erected by the Spaniard to stop Moyes raiding his former club for his old players.
Man of the Match: Ben Foster (West Bromwich Albion)