Everton began 2023 with a painful 4-1 defeat to Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park.
Kaoru Mitoma's early strike handed the visitors a half-time lead before a damaging six-minute spell shortly after the interval saw Roberto De Zerbi's side score three goals to run away with the contest.
The Blues netted a Demarai Gray penalty in stoppage-time after Alex Iwobi was brought down by Robert Sanchez in the penalty area, but by then it was far too late.
Manager Frank Lampard made two changes from the side that battled to a 1-1 draw with Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on New Year's Eve, with Tom Davies and Dwight McNeil given the nod in place of the suspended Amadou Onana and fit-again Ben Godfrey, as the Blues reverted to a 4-3-3 shape.
Despite grim conditions, Everton made a bright start and Iwobi forced Sanchez into an acrobatic, one-handed stop down low with a shot from the left side of the penalty area after intelligent play from Dominic Calvert-Lewin to recycle an attempted cross.
But Brighton, who had won three of their past four away outings heading into this one, soon gained a foothold in the game and looked a constant threat in attack.
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LAMPARD REACTION TO BRIGHTON DEFEAT
The opener came on 14 minutes when Mitoma seized on a hesitation in Everton's defence before slotting past Jordan Pickford via a couple of deflections.
The Toffees immediately went in search of a leveller but were frustrated in their quest.
Then a chaotic second-half spell saw Evan Ferguson, Solly March and Pascal Groß all score in the space of six minutes to consign Lampard's side to a miserable evening.
Ellis Simms, who was recalled on 1 January after scoring seven goals in seventeen appearances for Championship side Sunderland during the first half of the campaign, stepped off the bench to make his Goodison debut in the closing stages.
The Blues managed an injury-time consolation when Iwobi was bundled down in the area by Sanchez - Gray smashing home the spot-kick - but that could not provide any comfort on a night to forget.
Next up for Everton is a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the third round of the FA Cup on Friday (8pm GMT).