The results simply don't tell the whole story. Everton still occupy fourth place. If you had taken a pre-season poll of Evertonians, most would have said they'd be thrilled with fourth place after 10 games. But earning only four points out of the last four games is not good enough. Four straight ties have stagnated any progress that Everton was making at the start of the season.
The bright starts that were an Everton staple through the first few games have disappeared. Everton now ignores the opening whistle and doesn't start playing until the opposition scores its first goal. That weekly capitulation wakes Everton from their malaise and shocks them into action.
In fact, it's been five games since Everton scored first. The positive sign is that they have come back and either tied or taken the lead in all of those games as well. The glass is both half empty and half full. There is equal reason for optimism and pessimism and that is the most frustrating part.
Everton has proven capable of playing some brilliant attacking football and they've proven capable of a shocking defensive meltdown too. So we're left to ask, who exactly is this Everton team?
Are they the side that has lost only one game all season, despite surrendering early goals in five straight? Or are they the side that has tied four straight against inferior competition. Perhaps they're both. Perhaps they're good enough to be competitive against every team in the Premiership, but not good enough to win every game.
Good teams don't surrender early goals in five straight. Good teams don't allow last-minute equalisers seconds after a defensive substitution. Good teams don't go down 2-0 within 20 minutes to their biggest rival. Good teams can grind out a win when they don't play their best or when their best players aren't available. Good teams can sit on a lead and finish off an opponent.
Is Everton a good team? Personally, I think they've shown that they can be a very good team. But if Everton has any realistic hope of earning a place in European competition, they simply must play better from start to finish in every single game.
The Premier League season is a slog and it has a way of separating the contenders from the pretenders. We're not sure who the real Everton is yet but we'll soon find out.