In assessing the career of Andre Villas-Boas, it is sometimes tempting to wonder if there was a lookalike working under his name last season at Chelsea.
So impressive in flawlessly establishing himself as one of Europe’s best young coaches at Academica and then Porto, he then resembled a 34-year-old managerial novice in so poorly handling the admittedly ambitious transition he tried to oversee at Stamford Bridge.
It took courage, though, to so quickly thrust himself back into the spotlight of another leading Premier League club and, while the season remains at a dangerously early stage to draw firm conclusions, he is implementing change at Tottenham with far more skill.
Goals from Steven Caulker and Aaron Lennon secured Spurs' 2-0 victory over Aston Villa, their fourth in consecutive Premier League games, and elevates them to fifth in the table, only a point behind the two Manchester clubs but ahead of Arsenal.
A first clean sheet, even against a tepid Aston Villa team, also served as justification for the slightly surprising decision to drop Brad Friedel and give Hugo Lloris his first Premier League start.
Friedel was missing a Premier League for the first time in eight years and 311 matches but looked happy enough as he took his place on the bench alongside Michael Dawson and could not fail to have been impressed by Tottenham’s bright start. Within 10 minutes, three good chances had been created.
Gareth Bale, whose pace and direct running was an immediate problem for Matthew Lowton, shot narrowly wide from their first attack but the best opportunities fell to Jermain Defoe.
Jan Vertonghen was again demonstrating that he is equally comfortable from left-back or central defence and, having overlapped past Bale down the left, delivered a wonderful cross that Defoe wastefully half-volleyed over from the edge of the six-yard box.
Defoe had further sights of goal either side of half-time but show narrowly wide on both occasions. With Aston Villa clearly set up with the priority to stifle rather than create, there were briefly signs that they might even punish Tottenham on the counter-attack.
Kyle Walker lost his concentration and was dispossessed by Gabriel Agbonlahor, who after a quick interchange of passing with Brett Holman, looked to be clear on Tottenham’s goal.
Lloris, though, was swiftly off his line to smother the danger. The France captain also made two good reaction saves to deny Christian Benteke but then did almost hand Villa the lead. A poor throw ended up at the feet of Albrighton but a precise cross was not matched by Benteke’s profligate header.
With both teams wasteful in front of goal, the game ultimately turned on a considerable slice of fortune. Bale’s deep in-swinging corner had located Defoe on the far post and his misdirected shot was to cannon off the leg Caulker and past Brad Guzan.
Caulker was rightly credited with the goal but he knew absolutely nothing about it. The significance of the moment, however, was not lost on Steffen Freund, the Tottenham assistant manager, whose celebrations made Villas-Boas seem positively restrained.
With Villa providing such a limited threat - even when Bent was introduced in the 63rd minute - Tottenham were liberated by taking the lead and controlled the final third of the match.
Bale again almost scored but a deserved second did arrive when Aaron Lennon, who had collected a pass from Moussa Dembele, quickly cut inside Joe Bennett and arrowed his finish past Brad Guzan.
With Tottenham dominant and Dembele so influential in midfield, Bale also hit the post in the closing minutes.
A miserable performance from Villa was further compounded when Bennett was then stretchered off with an injury to his right leg that required heavy strapping.