Everton appeared to have turned corner after recording back-to-back Premier League victories for the first time this season over Newcastle United and Stoke City, however their revival was halted at home to West Bromwich Albion.
Salomon Rondon's 14th minute goal gave Tony Pulis' side the victory, but the defeat raised a number of questions for Everton supporters and came in a fashion that highlighted a trend of their season.
Everton dominate but struggle to find a way past a resolute defence
Roberto Martinez was quick to blame bad fortune for his side's defeat and if you look at the statistics you can certainly understand why. Everton had 34 shots on the West Brom goal, which is not only the most by any team in a single Premier League game this season, but the the most the Toffees have recorded in a single game since August 2003.
The Toffees hit the woodwork twice, had an effort cleared off the line, 14 corners and enjoyed 74 per cent of the possession, but they failed to find a way past a resolute and organised West Brom defence.
Luck may have been against the Toffees on Saturday, but this was a game that a side with the quality of Everton's should have won and this has happened far too often under Martinez.
There are few more attractive or attacking sides than Everton, but despite their 34 shots only six of those were on target as they struggled to break down West Brom's defence. This is not a new problem for Martinez and Everton, in fact it has become a trend over recent seasons, but still the Everton boss refuses to change the way his side play even when it is clearly not working.
Over the past two seasons Everton have enjoyed more possession and had more shots on goal at home against West Brom, Sunderland, Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Swansea City, Leicester City and Hull City. However, they have failed to win any of those games, drawing five and losing seven.
Another home defeat
Goodison Park has been widely acknowledged as a fortress over recent years, but Everton supporters have only seen their side win the league four times in the last 10 months.
Their poor home form has been reflected in the mood of impatience and frustration around Goodison in recent months, but the Goodison faithful tried to stick with the team on Saturday. They were encouraged by their side's dominance and hoped they would find the killer instinct they needed to break down West Brom's defence.
However, Everton could not find a way past the resolute guard in front of the West Brom, and their sixth home defeat of the season was greeted with a smattering of boos from the home supporters at the final whistle, a sign of their frustration after witnessing another home defeat.
In contrast, Roberto Martinez's side have lost just once away from home in the league all season. Having a strong, consistent home form is the foundation to success for any team and until they improve their record at Goodison Park, then any progress made away from home will constantly be undermined.
Presented with the challenge of breaking down a Pulis team doing what they do best, Roberto Martinez looked to the bench for inspiration to carve open the West Brom defence. However, his substitutions proved ineffective and left Everton supporters scratching their heads as they exited Goodison Park.
Arouna Kone, who has failed to have the impact recently that he had at the start of the campaign and saw him rewarded with a contract extension, was first on. Despite being given over half-an-hour to make an impact, the Ivory Coast international proved ineffective; slowing down Everton's attacks, misplacing passes and barely threatening Ben Foster's goal.
Aaron Lennon, who was Everton's best player causing James Chester problems, was next to be replaced by Gerard Deulofeu in the 74th minute. There was no doubting that the 21-year-old's magic was required, but keeping both Lennon and the Spaniard on the pitch may have helped and giving him longer than 16 minutes on the pitch could have been more effective too.
Forward Kevin Mirallas would have been left thinking what he has to do to get more game time this season after he was an unused substitute despite the Toffees trailing 1-0.
Head-scratching substitutions have become a common trend under Roberto Martinez and it is such a key part of management, if Martinez can get his changes right they could turn out to be a turning point in a match and lead to an upturn in results.
Everton concede yet again from a set-piece
Both Seamus Coleman and Gareth Barry vented their frustration at conceding from a set-piece after the game, but the lack of concentration when defending the corner in the 14th minute left the Toffees with an uphill battle.
Rondon's goal is the 11th goal Everton have conceded from a set-piece this season and Martinez will know that his side should have done more to prevent what turned out to be the winning goal. The corner came from the Baggies' first real attack when Coleman deflected a cross behind for a corner.
No player was tight enough to Martin Olsson, whose header was chested into the goal by Rondon, Joel Robles was in no man's land and there was no one on the post to stop Rondon bundling the ball over the line. This was the only real test for the Everton defence and turned out to be decisive moment in the match.