NEW boots, same Marouane Fellaini. His footwear may change, but the Belgian remains at the epicentre for Everton this season.
It wasn’t the only way in which the status quo was maintained at the weekend to leave the travelling Goodison faithful thinking they had seen it all before.
From losing a lead, drawing a game, being victim of a contentious refereeing decision through to sticking a significant spoke in a major rival’s progress, David Moyes’s side ticked many of the boxes which have become expected this season.
But the biggest, both in terms influence of sheer physical stature, remains Fellaini.
And on Saturday the midfielder demonstrated the growing presence that is making him impossible to ignore for potential suitors.
That profile prompted Warrior, kit providers for neighbours Liverpool, to approach Fellaini to publicise their debut foray into the football boot market – the Skreamer – which was given a first outing at Eastlands.
Of course, it will not have gone unnoticed that none of the Belgian’s main contributions at the weekend were with his feet, Fellaini forcing the ball over the line with his knee for Everton’s opener and then adjudged to have dragged back Edin Dzeko for Carlos Tevez to equalise from the spot shortly afterwards.
Fellaini now has eight goals for the season, only one fewer than his best Everton tally in 2009, and has scored against City, Manchester United and Arsenal.
Such productivity didn’t prevent the 25-year-old reiterated before the match his reticence at operating in an advanced midfield role.
Moyes, though, has another take.
“If he’d scored 10 this season we’d have been delighted with that,” admits the Goodison manager.
“We haven’t set him any target but he’s got a wee bit between his teeth at the moment, is enjoying scoring the goals and I think he’s actually enjoying playing the position he is in now.
“There were maybe questions about it but I think now he’s realising I’m getting recognised for it now and that’s a big part for us.”
While Fellaini was the most prominent, he wasn’t the only Everton player to catch the eye in a game from which a point was the very least the visitors merited.
Moyes had attracted plentiful criticism, primarily from disgruntled Everton supporters, by parking the bus at City last season, a decision which nevertheless appeared to have paid dividends until a late Mario Balotelli-inspired period earned the hosts a 2-0 victory.
The Everton manager always maintained it was a case of needs must. And with his team in a much stronger mental and physical state than last September, Saturday’s was a much more expressive, progressive performance, prompted by the solid base of Leon Osman and Darron Gibson in central midfield, overshadowing the more exalted Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry.