Spurs must bounce back quickly or fears will grow of another collapse.
Around about the same time Chelsea fans at Old Trafford were demanding their club back, Tottenham supporters at Anfield were fearing the return of theirs.
Two sloppy second-half mistakes saw Spurs slip to a 3-2 defeat against a spirited but fortunate Liverpool side and for Spurs’ travelling faithful, there must have been something sickeningly familiar about the way their team had grasped defeat from the jaws of victory.
With visitors leading 2-1, Kyle Walker’s blind back-pass left keeper Hugo Lloris stranded and the Frenchman’s mis-kick presented Stewart Downing with a finish even he could not miss.
Fifteen minutes later, with the match finely poised, Jermain Defoe’s slip presented the ball to Luis Suarez and the Uruguayan took a tumble in the box under pressure from Benoit Assou-Ekotto; Steven Gerrard converted the resulting penalty.
This was not Andre Villas-Boas’ new, resilient Tottenham, who are more likely to score a last minute goal than concede one.
This was the Tottenham of old; talented, stylish but with a mental fragility, naiveness and tendency to implode at key moments.
Let us not be melodramatic. This was Spurs’ first defeat in the league since 9 December, against a Liverpool side who, barring a shock loss to West Brom, have been imperious at home of late and boast one of the form players in European football in Suarez.
Even so, the way Villas-Boas’ side react to this defeat will be crucial in determining whether they have truly turned a corner and joined the Premier League elite. Tottenham must prove this was only a blip.
Spurs’ implosion at the tail end of last season has been painfully well-documented and Chelsea, Arsenal and even Liverpool fans will be hoping Sunday’s defeat is the catalyst for another spectacular collapse.
Last season’s squandering of a ten-point lead over Arsenal, and resulting failure to secure Champions League football, will no doubt remain in fans and players’ minds alike and there must have been one or two on the pitch thinking ‘here we go again’, after such an undeserved loss on Merseyside.
But there is compelling evidence that Spurs are a changed team this term. Late goals against Manchester United, Norwich, Lyon and West Ham suggest that Villas-Boas is steadily installing the never-say-die attitude that has been synonymous with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United over the past two decades.
Led by the imperious Jan Vertonghen, Spurs also boast a new defensive resilience, best highlighted by the crucial North London derby victory over Arsenal.
Last season, Harry Redknapp’s men blew a two goal lead to lose 5-2 at the Emirates Stadium but, despite conceding an early second-half goal last Sunday, Villas-Boas’ Tottenham stayed calm and never seriously looked like sacrificing their one goal advantage.
In attack, the brilliance of Gareth Bale has already been amply documented and, when Younes Kaboul and Sandro return to fitness, Spurs look a world-class striker away from a serious tilt at the Premier League title.
Tottenham now travel to Inter Milan in the Europa League on Thursday, most likely without both Bale (suspended) and Aaron Lennon (doubtful), before hosting Fulham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
The Lilywhites hold a 3-0 advantage over Inter from the first-leg but the San Siro remains an intimidating place to visit and the Nerazzurri, though a shadow of the Champions League winning side of 2010, still possess players capable of punishing a team short on belief.
Fulham, meanwhile, employ a manager and star striker who will both have a point to prove in north London.
With a visit to Stamford Bridge and home games against Everton and Manchester City to come, there are bigger tests ahead for Spurs but reacting positively to their first major setback in three months is the immediate priority.
The Chelsea fans in Manchester were silenced by Rafa Benitez’s second-half masterclass but Tottenham’s doubters will be quick to pipe up if more slip-ups follow Sunday’s defeat. Results against Inter and Fulham should keep them quiet but to achieve them, Villas-Boas’ team must show they are not the Tottenham of old.