Tottenham’s Capital One Cup fightback to dispose of Championship leaders Nottingham Forest offered them a timely boost, ending as it did four-game winless streak, but it’s fair to say the transition to life under Mauricio Pochettino has been far from seamless.
Ryan Mason’s spectacular equaliser was the goal that turned the tide and, in doing so, may have offered the Argentine a timely reminder of the recipe for success that had made him so attractive to the then manager-seeking Lilywhites, 4/1 for a top-four Premier League finish, in the first place.
No, not making a pilgrimage to pray to the Black Virgin of Montserrat, as he once did in a bid to ward off a seemingly inevitable relegation early on in his career at Espanyol, but trusting in young, hungry players, produced through his clubs’ youth setups to perform when it mattered.
While still a player at Barcelona’s other club, Pochettino was joined in the first team by academy products and subsequent Spanish internationals Joan Capdevilla and Raul Tamudo and then-manager Paco Flores’ instincts clearly rubbed off on him.
During what was initially a very successful tenure at Estadi Cornella El-Prat he oversaw the ascent of no fewer than 20 players to the first team – not bad for a three-and-half-season job.
Similarly at Southampton he took over a squad replete with youngsters and players yet to prove themselves at the highest level.
Having steadied the vessel in 2012/13, he took them to a new level in 2013/14, blooding a series of rookie talents in a squad that had the second-youngest average age of any side in the Premier League at just over 24.
As for why investing time and trust in unproven players works for Pochettino, one would hazard a guess that their commitment to and willingness to be indoctrinated in his hard-grafting, mutually-reliant system is simply far more complete than those who arrive into the picture with a reputation.
Mason, like Jake Livermore, Steven Caulker, Andros Townsend and many more before him, has spent many of his formative years away from his parent club on a loan in a range of more banal locales.
Yet despite playing only 25 minutes against Forest, he played a game-high five key passes, playing the ball to a teammate just twice less than £17m man Paulinho did in 64 minutes on the pitch.
It offered the freshman Spurs boss a timely reminder to stick to his youth-orientated guns, not be swayed by access to a decent chequebook or an arsenal of pre-lauded stars on handsome contracts.