If Aston Villa supporters had been told at the start of the season that their side would have given Arsenal a run for their money, beaten Chelsea and taken Manchester City to the wire and all by December, most would say their Christmas wishes had been answered.
And yet many will be tucking into their yuletide lunch frustrated because Martin O'Neill's side should have taken far more top scalps and beaten City convincingly.
Villa had plenty of chances to kill off Sven-Goran Eriksson's side but failed to take them and in the end had to contend themselves with a draw and the fact they are at least hanging on to eighth place as the busy festive football period gets under way.
The home side were guilty of once again being slow to come out of the blocks and have now been caught by an early goal on the last three occasions.
City, who have been somewhat of a bogey side for Villa over the years, are known to be poor travellers but looked to have a head start when Rolando Bianchi was gifted the opener after being left unmarked.
In previous meetings it has been former Villa striker Darius Vassell doing the damage over his old club but this time it was the Italian striker setting his side on their way.
Villa keeper Scott Carson, who had denied Elano in the fifth minute, could do nothing as the Brazilian beat Ashley Young for possession and picked out Martin Petrov who in turn set up Bianchi with a close-range effort he could not miss.
The former Reggina striker poked the ball home under the body of the diving Carson to give his Swedish manager hope of only their second away victory of the season.
If Eriksson is the ice-man when it comes to watching his side, O'Neill is the opposite, kicking every ball from the sidelines and the Northern Irishman was in raptures when his side levelled just three minutes later.
A Wilfred Bouma cross found John Carew advancing and the giant Norwegian twisted and turned the three City defenders on his shoulder inside out to get some space.
Carew did well to keep his feet under pressure from Richard Dunne and with a neat turn, slammed the ball home past City keeper Joe Hart.
Martin Laursen then saw an effort squandered after being set up by Gareth Barry as Villa pressed and pressed before Shaun Maloney got on the end of a great ball from Carew and should have at least hit the target.
As Villa's dominance continued and City's frailties defensively began to show, Carew thought he had done enough to grab a second but young Hart denied him with a fine diving save which saw the ball parried off the post from his outstretched palm.
The home crowd must have wished there was no half-time as the break ruined Villa's momentum and their search for a second goal.
But there was a 53rd minute chance when Gabriel Agbonlahor turned Dunne to get a chance at goal but his shot drifted just wide and then in the 62nd minute.
Young won a free kick but this time there was no repeat for Maloney of the wonder set piece he fired home at Sunderland last week.
Come full-time, it was the former England manager rather than the man many had hoped would be the next national coach who seemed the most pleased with a share of the spoils.