Diligent defending, formerly the calling card of Everton FC, appears a product of a bygone era at Goodison Park based on the goals the Toffees have been haemorrhaging in the fledgling stages of the campaign.
Their 3-2 reverse against Crystal Palace – a side hardly renowned for their threat in the final third – took their goals against tally to 13 after just five Premier League outings.
As a result of their deficiencies in the defensive department, the Blues have slipped to 8/1 to finish in the top-four this term, but what’s to blame for their seeping rearguard?
World Cup-related confidence crisis
Stalwarts Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka jetted off to Brazil after yet another stellar season in the top-flight, hoping to replicate the heroics that helped hoist Everton to fifth last term with England and endear themselves to the nation.
The nightmares both endured in the land of samba served the opposite purpose, however, and the after effects have left them looking a far cry of the cocksure, steadfast stoppers of campaigns past.
A lack of pace
Another lesson learned from in the Palace reverse is that three games in a little over a week looks too much for the ageing legs of Gareth Barry.
The former Manchester City man’s influence last term was huge, but his impact is certain to be diluted if he’s continually tasked to aid the Toffees’ continental cause.
David Moyes’ methods have worn off
Roberto Martinez tried to disrupt the foundations the former Manchester United boss instilled in over a decade at the Everton helm through throwing Antolin Alcaraz into the defensive mix.
The rearguard-marshalling qualities of those remaining from the previous regime helped avert potential crises such as these, but the teachings of Moyes look long-forgotten with the Merseysiders’ backline now resembling the Swiss-cheese model Martinez built at Wigan.
Last call for Sylvain Distin
A bastion of eternal youth, it appears that the batteries powering the veteran centre-half are running low.
Everton’s two victories this season have both come after he’s been omitted from the starting line up.