Plenty of moments of truth, turning points, markers, crossroads and possible jump-starts this week. Will Everton's progress in the Europa Cup jump-start their season? Was Liverpool's win at Everton a turning point? Could Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat at Blackburn prove a crossroads for both clubs? Will Man.City's defeat of Arsenal be a marker for a new assault on the top four? All of these are unanswerable questions, at this stage, and only determined in the long run by 20/20 hindsight, that crucial piece in the pundit's and blogger's tool kit.
How does Tottenham's defeat at Man.Utd in the Carling Cup fit into this speculative whirlpool? Well, a game of two halves really (is it too late to take out a patent on that phrase?) and you have to ignore the two superb strikes by Gibson that settled the match. We can take heart from the first half where we played confidently and imposed ourselves on a side prepared to take us at our own valuation: third in the table; nine goal winners over Wigan. They began apprehensively and allowed us to play, if not to score.
In the end we showed the ability but not the desire. Harry's declaration that the league was a priority before the match didn't help but our second half display was poor bordering on the abject. It lacked pace and belief. Checking through the box marked 'positives' only Bale's name leaps out. Hutton and Bentley combined well at times in the first half; Lennon is a threat whichever wing he plays on; Dawson was competent: Gomes was a bystander, even for the goals. The rest flickered like the flame of hope in the cold Old Trafford blast and went out. Bassong was slow to close down for at least the second goal, and for the Cuellar header that led to Villa's goal on Saturday.
In the 'If only' file Defoe's failure to convert Bale's cross or to roll it across the six yard box for Keane is the key exhibit. If he had scored then perhaps the psychological boot would have been on the other foot. Or the psychological foot would have been in the other boot. Whatever. The stress on golden boot awards makes strikers even more selfish than they already are by nature. Perhaps the big award of the season should be the 'Golden Shoehorn' for the most assists.
But we were not outplayed. We lost it in our heads rather than on the pitch. So as usual you can make of this what you like. It probably depends on your temperament. Take the positives from the first half and look forward with confidence, or take the negatives from the result and the lacklustre second half and fall into gloom and depression at the thought of a newly energized Everton at the weekend.
Personally I am a positive depressive and will quickly recover from the Manchester result. But its not really about me is it. You have to feed into your predictive computer the fact that Everton sustained further injuries, to Distin, Gosling and Jo, to their already depleted squad. We have already beaten Everton 2-0 this season and they are worse placed now than when we beat them. Crouchy says that the defeat to Man.Utd was a 'one off'.
So there you have it, almost certainly we will win but I await confirmation that Woodgate and /or King are available. Kranjcar will be back even if Modric doesn't quite make it. Defoe can't keep missing chances and we cannot fail to improve on our second half performance at Old Trafford.
At least we can fall back on the straw- clutcher's last hope that 'now we can concentrate on the league.'