Everton were unable to leapfrog visitors Swansea City as they were held to a goalless draw at Goodison Park.
It was the Blues' first 0-0 stalemate in the league since 9 November last year and the first time Roberto Martinez's men had failed to find the net in a Premier League game this term.
Their cause was aided by the 72nd-minute dismissal of Swansea's Jonjo Shelvey for a second yellow card, but - despite throwing down the gauntlet - the hosts were thwarted in their attempts to secure a third successive domestic win.
A frustrating last 10 minutes was somewhat typified by substitute Romelu Lukaku coming within a toe's width of reaching a Samuel Eto'o centre in the seconds immediately before the final whistle.
The afternoon also saw the loss of Antolin Alcaraz to a first-half injury, meaning Gareth Barry played over an hour alongside Phil Jagielka at centre-back. The Paraguayan is to be assessed but is now expected to face another lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Looking for victory against his former employers, Martinez made two changes to the team that had beaten Burnley at Turf Moor six days earlier.
In came Ross Barkley and Aiden McGeady to the starting line-up, with Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman dropping to the bench.
Swansea, meanwhile, were able to call upon an in-form pairing in Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wilfried Bony, and the two combined on five minutes to craft a golden chance.
Sigurdsson, receiving a pass in midfield, found the run of Bony, who was played onside by Leighton Baines. However, bearing down on goal, the Ivorian could only guide the ball into the outer part of Tim Howard's side netting.
Everton, too, enjoyed some early sights of goal and came close on 12 minutes when Baines whipped a free-kick inches past the post following a foul on Samuel Eto'o.
Having had the early let-off when Bony missed, the Blues seemingly had another on the quarter-hour mark, Alcaraz going unpunished when Shelvey's drilled effort from the edge of the box struck his hand on the way through to Howard.
The centre-back's afternoon was also to prove shortlived as, 10 minutes later, he sustained his injury in an aerial battle with Bony. Holding his hand to his shoulder and looking in some discomfort, the defender trudged off to be replaced by Muhamed Besic.
The enforced switch saw Barry move to centre-half, with Besic filling the gap in midfield.
Almost immediately, there was a second scare when James McCarthy went down under a similar challenge. Applause rang round as the Republic of Ireland international hastily got back to his feet.
In between, there was a half chance for Phil Jagielka, but from Baines' cross, the skipper headed high and wide.
On 37 minutes and with Swansea threatening to break from midfield, Barry tripped Sigurdsson in the centre circle, ending the move but earning himself a fourth booking of the campaign in the process. The 33-year-old will now need to go without seeing yellow until the New Year if he is to avoid a one-match ban.
For its odd half-chances and fleeting moments of drama, the game lacked bite where it mattered.
The half-time whistle came without another clear chance on goal and a subdued start to the second half was only really livened when Baines blazed over with another free-kick after Barkley had been impeded by Ashley Williams.
Both managers duly looked to their respective benches and it was Garry Monk - looking to outsmart his former boss - who moved first, sending on Bafetimbi Gomis for Bony.
Martinez's response was to send on Lukaku and Steven Pienaar for Naismith and McGeady, but not before the latter had gone close in bending a shot wide to Lukasz Fabianski's right from the edge of the box.
Soon after, Swansea were down to 10. Shelvey, who had picked up a foolish booking for kicking the ball away in the first half, found his way into referee Kevin Friend's book for a second time for a body check on McCarthy.
The following free-kick resulted in a Jagielka header being deflected and landing on the roof of the net but - predictably - waves of Everton attacks followed.
Barkley centred one particularly dangerous ball, but saw a white shirt get their first. Lukaku then failed to control the ball at the back post after a Pienaar shot had been deflected in his direction.
When a thumping strike from Baines struck the Belgian inside the box moments later, you felt it wasn't to be. And that was confirmed when the substitute stretched to reach an Eto'o cross with the final act of the game, only to see the ball flash across the face of goal and away from danger. Replays suggested he may well have been offside anyway.
That Fabianski punched the air at the final whistle said plenty. The point leaves Everton ninth in the table with a Europa League visit of Lille up next on Thursday.