DAVID MOYES could be forgiven if, even just for a moment, he shudders as he arrives at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium today.
And not because of the ongoing sub-arctic temperatures which are gripping the UK either.
The Blues boss won’t need any reminding that it was the scene of one of the most abysmal Everton performances he has presided over.
His side had slumped to a lifeless 2-0 defeat in February 2011 at a rain-lashed Reebok, as goals from Gary Cahill and Daniel Sturridge left them facing a potential relegation scrap and Moyes, rarely one for over-reaction, was left (in the word’s of Alan Partridge) feeling “clinically fed up”.
“The performance was as bad as I can remember since I have been in charge,” he told the press afterwards with a face which failed to conceal his mixture of fury and disappointment.
“We never started well and gave away two very poor goals and we didn’t win the big challenges.
“We didn’t function today. The sort of toughness we have, which was required, just wasn’t there.”
The words were all the more powerful because similarly harsh assessments from the Scot are so rare, and in truth so rarely needed.
Even when his team have not won over the years, it is usually unthinkable that they have done so without at least putting up a fight or showing the hunger that flows through the veins of their ceaselessly demanding manager.
That’s why – as the Blues arrive in Lancashire this afternoon on the back of a particularly poor display on Monday – it’s vital that a healthy dose of perspective is applied.
The goalless draw at Southampton was unquestionably poor – if anything at least, the first half ensured that the rest of the country are unlikely to consider Everton as Champions League dark horses any longer thus maybe lessening the pressure on them.
But it was not in the same bracket of woefulness as that rainy Sunday almost two years ago. Since then equivalent off-days have been such a scarcity that displays like Monday’s hurt supporters more, but that in itself underlines how far the Blues have come.
They may have a small squad which is at full stretch prioritising the FA Cup and the top four, but with injured key men edging back and the festive glut out of the way there is plenty to remain optimistic about.