Ange Postecoglou has defied all expectations in his first six months as Tottenham head coach. He backed himself to succeed where Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho failed, inheriting a confidence-stricken squad that had fallen to eighth in the Premier League, while also dealing with the loss Harry Kane - the club's all-time record goalscorer.
After just 10 games in charge, the Australian had earned the full faith of the Spurs faithful, with a 2-1 win at Crystal Palace confirming the club's best start to a season since 1960. Tottenham were five points clear of Manchester City at the time, albeit having played a game more, and were deservedly being touted as dark horses for the title.
"Let them dream. It's what being a football fan is all about," Postecoglou told reporters after the final whistle at Selhurst Park. "It's fair to say that this lot have suffered a fair bit so I'm certainly not going to dampen that. Dreams last as long as they do until someone wakes you up. We'll see."
Unfortunately, that dream was quickly dampened by a 4-1 home defeat against London rivals Chelsea. Spurs played almost the entire second half with nine men after Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie picked up red cards, and in the end, couldn't hold off the Blues.
To compound their misery, summer signings James Maddison and Mickey van de Ven both sustained serious injuries. Five days later, the honeymoon period well and truly ended for Postecoglou as Spurs were beaten 2-1 at Wolves despite entering second-half stoppage-time with a 1-0 lead.
The international break gave Tottenham the chance to regroup, but they fell to a third successive loss at home to Aston Villa on their return to action, in a game that saw Rodrigo Bentancur suffer ankle ligament damage. The wheels had seemingly come off in true 'Spursy' fashion.
But reports of their demise were greatly exaggerated. Tottenham may have let nine points slip away, but that was more down to bad fortune than poor performances, with Postecoglou sticking to his high intensity, attack-minded style of play.
The biggest test came at the weekend, in the backyard of the reigning Premier League champions, and Spurs passed with flying colours. Postecoglou's men were fully deserving of the 3-3 draw after going to-to-toe with City, and might even have snatched the victory had their finishing been slightly better.
As a result, Tottenham went into this current midweek round of fixtures still only five points behind leaders Arsenal, after coming through a period of true adversity. Things won't get any easier during a hectic festive period, but they should still be considered genuine title-contenders.