Roberto Martinez praised the way his squad coped with enforced changes in emerging 2-1 victors against Southampton.
With experienced duo Tim Howard and Gareth Barry suspended, skipper Phil Jagielka sidelined with a hamstring injury, Everton shuffled the pack and made a total of five changes to the side that started on Boxing Day.
Seamus Coleman grabbed his fifth goal of the campaign before Romelu Lukaku struck to immediately cancel out Gaston Ramirez's second-half leveller.
The win ensured the Blues ended 2013 on a high and maintained their challenge at the top of the table.
And it was how his troops prevailed through suspension and injury that most pleased Martinez.
He said: "I thought it was an extremely good game of football. First and foremost, we need to congratulate Southampton - I thought they played fantastically well. But I couldn't be happier with our overall performance.
"When they scored, it was a real test of how you are going to bounce back and we replied with one of the best goals you are going to see in this league.
"It was the deserved scoreline but internally we had five changes from Boxing Day and we were a team that worked extremely hard for each other."
One of those changes saw Joel Robles take the gloves from Howard and make his first league start for the Blues.
Ramirez's thunderbolt aside, the 23-year-old kept the Saints at bay and his manager was quick to absolve his FA Cup-winning goalkeeper of any fault for the strike.
Martinez added: "Joel is blaming himself but I don't think that's the case. When you watch the replay, it's different, but watching it live - these balls can swerve anywhere when you hit them well.
"I thought he had a good game. He was in control of his box and showed good understanding alongside two centre-halves he hadn't played with before. He had a very good debut and wouldn't have deserved to be in a drawing side."
The Blues are next at Goodison in the FA Cup third round. Buy tickets online here and print them at home.