Everton 1 Birmingham City 1
A 1-1 victory away for Birmingham City, coming just two weeks after a 1-1 victory away to Chelsea, and yet again there is that debilitating feeling of defeat.
"I have just left a disappointed dressing room," lamented Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager - and you could see it in his face that he was labouring under great frustration.
Never mind that Everton are set to qualify for the Uefa Champions League; never mind that Birmingham were in control for an hour. This became, after Duncan Ferguson equalised for Everton in the 86th minute, a matter of regret.
Birmingham should be higher in the Premiership table than they are - man for man they are probably as strong as Everton - but this league rightly puts a greater emphasis on consistency than it does on potential.
Everton, with their ability to make virtues of their vices, have been the story of the season, while Birmingham have been the great underachievers. There are mitigating circumstances - Bruce likes to call them injuries - but that is hardly a consolation.
At their best, Birmingham can stop just about anybody from playing, and, despite what Blues defender Mario Melchiot might say, they play better football than they are given credit for.
With Jermaine Pennant and Melchiot forging a useful partnership on the right flank, Emile Heskey leading the line with distinction, and the prospect of new players, Birmingham have every reason to believe that they can do next season what Everton have done this season.
The problem with the Premiership is also its beauty. There is probably little difference between the fifth-best team and the 15th-best team, a perception that should give hope to every mid-range club in the country.
In the first half here, you would not have known which was the team set to play in Europe and which was the team who want the season to end. Birmingham were sharper, more intelligent, and more composed.
When Heskey scored, with a fine low shot from distance in the fifth minute, it only in keeping with the nature of Birmingham's performance. Mehdi Nafti ( mistakenly called "Nifti" on the official team sheet) might have scored a second soon after but missed with a header.
Though outnumbered in midfield, Birmingham still controlled the pace of the match.
Pennant was superlative on the right wing, producing such dexterity that Alessandro Pistone, the Everton left-back, was substituted at half-time.
Pistone, however, was not Everton's only weak link. James Beattie, the former Southampton striker, was just as inept. After missing with a header from close range in the first half, he proceeded to give no impression except a negative one.
What, one might ask, did David O'Leary see when he tried to sign Beattie for Aston Villa?
Beattie cost Everton £6 million, which is roughly the same amount that Birmingham paid Liverpool to sign Heskey. If only Heskey was more prolific in front of goal.
If only he received more credit for the unseen work that he produces. Everton could not handle Heskey nor, indeed, Pennant.
At half- time, Everton decided that adopt a more direct style of play. They switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2, sent on Ferguson in place of Lee Carsley, and launched balls into the Birmingham penalty area.
For the most part, Kenny Cunningham and Matthew Upson dealt admirably with this aerial threat, but the change of tactics meant that Birmingham had less of the ball in midfield.
The change in emphasis would prove significant in the final five minutes, when Everton forced the pace.
When Tim Cahill found himself clear, he was denied by a fine save by goalkeeper Maik Taylor, but the ball spun across to the face of the goal for Ferguson to score from close range. Cue celebrations that seemed to reflect the relief that circulated Goodison Park.
Liverpool's subsequent defeat away to Crystal Palace means that Everton are ever closer to taking their place in the Uefa Champions League in August. They deserve it and David Moyes, their manager, has seen his stock rise significantly.
Whether Birmingham can "do an Everton" next season depends on whether they have more luck with injuries and learn about what it means to have a killer instinct.
The late goals conceded against Everton and Chelsea have denied Blues four points. Had these been victories instead of draws, the team would still be fighting for a place in the Uefa Cup. Now, however, the season cannot end quickly enough.
Scorers: Heskey (5) 0-1; Ferguson (86) 1-1.
EVERTON (4-5-1): Martyn; Hibbert, Weir, Yobo, Pistone (Watson, 46); Carsley (Ferguson, 46), Osman, Arteta, Cahill, Kilbane; Beattie (Bent, 61). Substitutes: Wright, McFadden.
BIRMINGHAM CITY (4-4-2): Maik Taylor; Melchiot, Cunningham, Upson, Lazaridis, Pennant (Martin Taylor, 89), Johnson, Nafti, Anderton (Clemence, 79); Pandiani (Blake, 68), Heskey. Substitutes: Bennett, Morrison.
Referee: A D'Urso (Essex).
Bookings: Everton - Carsley, Watson (fouls); Birmingham - Cunningham, Melchiot (fouls).
Birmingham man of the match: Mario Melchiot - better going forward than he was defending but, on a day when Birmingham flourished and should have won, he produced a display of energy and skill.