Everton were brought down to earth by a shock goal from French defender Noe Pamarot and a Tottenham side who responded to a first period when they had been bullied out of the match with a performance of steel of their own to triumph 1-0.
Everton will claim it went too far. One shocking Jamie Redknapp tackle ended Tim Cahill's involvement in the game and also saw a melee between players as they left the pitch at half-time.
It continued after the break in a spiteful game that stretched referee Graham Poll's abilities to the full.
Everton hit the woodwork twice, had two penalty appeals turned down, but in the end found themselves with an uphill battle against a determined a defiant Spurs who maintained their unbeaten away league record.
Boss David Moyes had wondered pre-match when their bubble would burst, but he surely was not expecting it to come from a Spurs side who had barely got out of their half in the first period.
Cahill's departure - after brushing aside Redknapp's apology and graphically demonstrating to all what had been done to him - set the tone for an unpleasant second period, and Everton's eventual demise.
Moyes described claims of a training-ground bust-up between Marcus Bent and Thomas Gravesen as "absolute rubbish" before naming the pair in a side chasing four successive league wins for the first time in two years.
And Bent was involved in the first major incident of the match when he was denied a penalty on five minutes. The big striker forced his way in from the left, got to the line and turned back into the box, only to be felled by Erik Edman's outstretched foot.
Referee Poll, who surely should have booked Bent if he thought he was diving, decided to do nothing.
Spurs were subjected to a hounding at every turn and were forced into conceding possession.
It almost cost them when a sloppy throw was conceded on the right, and when Gravesen hurled the ball into the box, Cahill saw a header beat Paul Robinson and clatter against the left-hand post.
Another ball in from the right, this time a Cahill cross, was met by Leon Osman at point-blank range, but Robinson saved superbly.
Everton had their tails up and the terrier-like harassment that is so much part of Everton's play kept Spurs pinned down, Kevin Kilbane, in particular, hounding Pamarot into a succession of errors.
Pamarot had a nightmare against the big Irishman, who got in behind the full-back to chest down a long ball from Alan Stubbs before firing a cross-shot inches wide of the far post.
A minute later another ball in from the left saw Kilbane look to get a yard in front of Pamarot on the far post only to be felled by the former Nice player.
Neither player made any contact with the ball but again referee Poll turned down penalty appeals.
Spurs did not enjoying being hounded. Redknapp suffered against Gravesen and Pedro Mendes against Lee Carsley, the Spurs pair constantly caught in possession.
And when another Gravesen long throw was flicked on by Kilbane, it bounced off Ledley King and dropped inches wide of a post with Robinson stranded.
Spurs were just happy to get off unscathed at the break, but there was still time for a melee as the players came off, with Timothee Atouba and David Weir momentarily involved before peace was restored.
But eight minutes into the second period, with Everton again having most of the play, Spurs took a shock lead.
Pamarot's bad day improved considerably when he appeared in Everton's box following a Robbie Keane corner that was cleared and hooked back in by Simon Davies. Pamarot was left unmarked beyond the far post to head back through a crowded area, beating Martyn's left hand.
Everton hit back almost immediately when Osman placed a low shot from just outside the box that evaded Robinson but hit the foot of a post and bounced across goal for Kilbane, who shot over from the rebound.
Duncan Ferguson came on for Carsley, but things turned nasty two minutes later when Redknapp was booked for a bad foul on Cahill.
The Australian needed lengthy treatment and as he was eventually taken off, Redknapp tried to shake his hand, but an angry Cahill graphically demonstrated the assault he had just suffered, before limping away to be replaced by Steve Watson.
Defoe was next in the book for a late lunge at Weir right in front of the dug-outs, the angry defender being ushered away by team-mates.
Everton subjected Spurs to a long-ball bombardment, but tall defenders Noureddine Naybet, King and Gardner, coped well.
Spurs' objective was made clearer when they took off striker Defoe and put on midfielder Reto Ziegler, leaving just Keane up front.
By now everything Everton did was hurried and continually cost them possession. Much of their forward play by now was individual running into the heart of a packed defence.