The goal for Everton in May was keeping hold of what they had and securing seventh spot ahead of chasers Liverpool and Fulham.
Tricky trips to Stoke and Wolves, plus a home encounter with surprise Champions League hopefuls Newcastle United, stood in their way.
Yet the Blues went undefeated to achieve their objective and earn some much-deserved Merseyside bragging rights.
Only once in 20 years had the Toffees usurped their rivals from across Stanley Park in the final league standings, but a solid close to the campaign saw them complete the feat with an eventual four-point cushion separating the sides.
After ending April with an impressive 4-0 thumping of Fulham, another victory looked to be heading Everton's way when Marc Wilson's header struck teammate Peter Crouch and diverted past Stoke stopper Asmir Begovic just before the break at the Britannia.
But a canny triple substitution from Tony Pulis proved the catalyst for a Potters comeback, striker Cameron Jerome bundling through just two minutes after coming on to level with the aid of a deflection off the unfortunate Phil Jagielka.
The Blues were then left to rue an incorrectly disallowed Nikica Jelavic strike and a harshly spurned Leon Osman penalty shout as they were held to a frustrating goalless draw by already-relegated Wolves.
The point did, however, mean Everton's fate was in their own hands going into the final day, a victory over the Magpies in front of the Goodison Park faithful being guaranteed to secure a second successive seventh-place finish.
And it duly arrived as the Blues outran and outfought their visitors to all but sew up victory inside 30 minutes.
Steven Pienaar, making the final appearance of his loan spell from Tottenham, got proceedings underway with a deflected long-range effort on 15 minutes, before Jelavic racked up goal number 11 since his move from Rangers, reacting smartly to beat keeper Tim Krul at the second attempt.
Freshly-crowned Everton Player of the Season John Heitinga then added a third with his head, and though Tony Hibbert put through his own net late on, it was a swaggering finish to the most Jekyll and Hyde of campaigns.
Indeed, having been rooted in the bottom half of the table at the turn of the year, the Blues' ended the season having suffered just three defeats in their final 23 outings.
What's more, in Jelavic, they had unearthed a new goalscoring hero.
The eager anticipation of 2012/13 begins.