The sight of Michael Keane, benched as a centre back but coming on as a makeshift centre forward, said it all.
Neal Maupay remained on the substitutes bench, not trusted by his manager after two blanks already this season (and having scored once in 31 appearances), and Arnaut Danjuma instantly picked up the theme by squandering chances on his first start for the club. Everton need a striker, and quickly.
Whereas Gary O’Neil, the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, was able to send on an Austrian international to use his 6ft7in frame and claim a late winning goal, Sean Dyche was left to muster a desperate substitution involving a defender severely lacking confidence. It smacked of desperation, but that is the position Everton are in this early in the season.
Sasa Kalajdzic is no Premier League veteran. This was only his third game — he missed the majority of last season with an ACL injury — but he demonstrated predatory know-how to ghost in amongst the Everton defence and glance a header past Jordan Pickford that meant Wolves picked up their first points of the campaign while Everton are still scrambling around for their first goal, let alone point.
The frustration grows for Evertonians. Everything that can go wrong currently is for the cash-strapped, goal-shy club. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is back on the treatment table, this time with a facial injury picked up at Aston Villa last weekend, and any hope that he can be the decisive talisman is almost non-existent. He has contributed seven goals over the past two injury-ridden seasons.
Instead, Everton must be realistic that if they do not purchase a good enough striker by the end of the transfer window this week, they are heading in the direction of the Championship.
Chances created but not finished are Everton's downfall
Against Wolves, as with the narrow loss to Fulham on the opening weekend, the home side showed plenty of graft and did create opportunities, but lacked the player in the penalty area to convert the chances.
Wolves goalkeeper Jose Sa did very well to tip over Abdoulaye Doucoure’s headed effort in the second half and also thwarted Danjuma shortly beforehand. Doucoure scored with a neat finish, only to be correctly ruled offside. James Tarkowski sliced into the side-netting and Danjuma saw an effort turned onto the goalpost.
By the end, Everton had mustered 15 goal attempts (seven on target) and missed them all, Wolves scored with one of their two. No wonder Dyche was practically pleading for a striker in the post-match debrief.
“We are trying to get others in,” he said. “All these things cost money. If we had money, it is fair to say we would change all sorts. I have tried to make it clear we hadn’t got pots of gold. We have spoken about being concerned, but it is reality.
“We have to take responsibility for how many chances we have taken without scoring a goal.”
The four victories Dyche has overseen at Goodison Park since taking over have been 1-0. Everton were the second lowest goalscorers, after Wolves, last term. This is nothing new.
Dyche was able to send on the 19-year-old Youssef Chermiti, signed from Sporting, but he is deemed one for the future.
Either way, when Everton travel to Bramall Lane next Saturday to face Sheffield United, they will want a stronger proposition, an upgrade in machinery, even if seeking external investment is proving just as difficult as scoring a goal.
A striker decided this match, and he was wearing the old gold of Wolves rather than Everton blue.