Everton let two precious points slip away at St Andrew's as Birmingham came from behind to deny David Moyes' men.
The Blues went into the game lying ninth in the Barclays Premier League, just one place and two points behind Alex McLeish's side.
David Moyes hinted in the build-up that a win would be a vital stepping stone towards closing the gap on those teams currently occupying the European places, and after Victor Anichebe and Yakubu put the Blues ahead inside 22 minutes, it looked as though the Merseysiders would be heading home with an added spring in their step.
But it wasn't to be. The hosts hit back quickly through Cameron Jerome before Craig Gardner let fly to level from the edge of the box in the second half. Everton, though, may have been aggrieved to see two debatable penalty decisions go in Birmingham's favour.
Moyes was able to name Tim Cahill for the first time in nearly a month. The Australian came in for the injured Leon Osman as the only change to the side which had thrashed Hull City 5-1 at Goodison Park.
It took 17 lacklustre minutes for the game's first chance of note - a Steven Pienaar thunderbolt which was well turned away by Joe Hart - but it opened up the proverbial floodgates.
From the resulting corner, Cahill forced a save and the very next attack led to Anichebe's opener. Receiving the ball on the left-hand side of the box, the Nigerian international turned Liam Ridgewell before rifling an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net. It was his first goal since scoring at Stoke in September 2008.
Three minutes later Everton had two. Arteta fed Pienaar and the South African fashioned enough room to cross. He found Yakubu loitering inside the six-yard box and left him with a straight-forward header to double the advantage.
The goal rush wasn't over though and almost immediately Jerome threw the hosts a lifeline, innovatively hooking Keith Fahey's low cross beyond the reach of Tim Howard. Three goals in six minutes and a slow-burner was suddenly a contest worthy of its billing.
Chances continued to arrive at both ends and Arteta saw his long-range effort divert wide off Yakubu before Ridgewell wasted a gilt-edged opportunity to level, blazing high and wide from eight yards.
Jerome, too, headed over and Hart again flung himself to get fingertips to a Baines free-kick on the stroke of half time.
Everton felt they had two decent penalty shouts early in the second half. First, Pienaar's shot appeared to strike the arm of Roger Johnson and then Gardner looked to have controlled with his bicep. Referee Lee Probert was not convinced though, and waved played on.
Typically, it was Gardner who went up the other end and bagged his first Birmingham goal to level. It was pure route one. Hart lumped the ball forward, Jerome flicked on and the former Aston Villa man produced a quality finished into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
Concious that Birmingham now had the momentum, Moyes responded by sending on Landon Donovan for Yakubu. With the American's 10-week loan spell up after the game, the Scot must have been hoping the script was written. Jack Rodwell, too, came on for Cahill, while Anichebe limped off after turning his ankle to be replaced by Dan Gosling.
A slip by Jagielka allowed another substitute, James McFadden, in on goal in between, but the former Toffee sliced his shot into the crowd from a tight angle. The changes did alter the flow though and Everton were unmistakably the team most likely heading into the final minutes.
The Blues threw everything forward and Donovan chased every lost cause in typical fashion, but the hosts shut the door time and again and left Moyes' men to ponder what could - and perhaps should - have been.