Liverpool fans and conspiracy theorists will never believe it, but Manchester City are back on top of the League on merit.
It has taken them 60 days to regain their place at the summit and they are only leading by grace of their superior goal difference.
But any suggestions that Everton were somehow complicit in handing Pep Guardiola’s team the win they so desperately needed can be discounted immediately.
The poor relations of Merseyside might be desperately out of touch and wondering where their next win is coming from.
Yet they still pushed City every inch of the way at Goodison Park last night before succumbing to goals from Aymeric Laporte and Gabriel Jesus.
And even the most rabid Koppite will not be able to fault their neighbours’ commitment to keeping the title race wide open.
Beleaguered Everton boss Marco Silva was adamant that he had no intention of doing City any favours.
Yet that wasn’t the way it looked when he revealed a team sheet which had top scorers Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson both on the bench alongside captain Seamus Coleman.
That meant rookie right-back Jonjoe Kenny was handed the thankless task of marking Leroy Sane, a prospect which had Liverpool fans choking on their dinners.
Everton’s form has fallen off a cliff since their stoppage time defeat in the Merseyside derby at the beginning of December.
With only three wins in their previous 12 League games and an FA Cup KO at Millwall, the last thing they needed was a rescheduled visit from Guardiola’s goal-hungry Champions.
The City boss is urging his players to shoot on sight because things are so tight at the top that it could even go down to goals scored.
But his swashbuckling stars need absolutely no encouragement to get forward and they were almost ahead after just two minutes when Sane fired inches wide.
Kurt Zouma blocked from Ilkay Gundogan as City moved through the gears and Silva’s nervous back four started to creak at the seams.
No top flight team has conceded more set-piece goals than Everton this season and they should have shipped another in the 16th minute when Laporte headed wide from Sane’s deep corner.
Quite how the imposing Laporte found himself being marked by Tom Davies was anyone’s guess, but the £57million Frenchman had no excuses for missing the target from little more than a yard out.
An even better opportunity went begging when Gundogan beat Michael Keane to David Silva’s 19th minute pull-back but the German’s shot came back off the bar.
It was beginning to look like one of those nights for City as they dominated possession yet struggled to convert their supremacy into goals.
But there are few more generous hosts than Everton right now and just when it looked as though they were going to reach the interval on level terms they contrived to hand the advantage to City on the stroke of half-time.
Another free-kick needlessly conceded by Idrissa Gueye gave David Silva the chance to deliver the ball into the mixer and this time Laporte made no mistake as he drifted between Keane and Andre Gomes to head past Jordan Pickford.
It was almost as if Everton had not learned any lessons from their earlier let-off and didn’t realise that allowing free headers to your opponents could be so costly.
No wonder Silva has the permanent look of a man about to burst into tears. Watching his team’s defending is enough to make anyone cry.
Yet what they lacked in defensive quality, they more made up for in lung-bursting effort.
They never allowed City a moment’s rest as they chased a second-half equaliser, even if they rarely troubled Ederson in the City goal.
The closest they came was Gueye’s hopeful effort from distance which wobbled in the air but was comfortably held by City’s Brazilian keeper.
You could almost hear the groans from the other side of Stanley Park as the visitors held out.
But City were finding it just as difficult to conjure up the second goal they needed to buy themselves some much-needed breathing space.
Sergio Aguero was out of luck with an acrobatic overhead kick which flew narrowly wide and substitute Raheem Sterling’s 69th minute effort was deflected inches over the bar by Kenny.
And it was not until the seventh minute of stoppage time that Gabriel Jesus ended the uncertainty when he headed into the empty net after his attempted chip had come back off the luckless Pickford.
If this is how it’s going to be for the rest of the title race, Guardiola is not going to have any fingernails left by the end of the season.
By the time his team are back in action against Chelsea on Sunday, there’s a fair chance that Liverpool will already have won their game in hand at home to Bournemouth and retaken pole position.
There are plenty more twists to come. This one is going right down to the wire.