Next in our feature for the new campaign, taking a considered and occasionally offbeat look at our games - continuing with West Brom away...
MANY AN EX-PLAYER likes to regale you with a tale of their past exploits given half a chance on any given opportunity. Normally a stunning goal, great run or tackle - not in the case of ex-Spur Gary O'Reilly when he popped over for a chat ahead of the clash at the Hawthorns.
"I had to take me shorts off over in that corner over there!" recounted the one-time defender. "Got a stud in the groin area and it looked like I was wearing a mini skirt."
As anecdotes go, this was the best Gary could come up with as far as his Hawthorns Collection was concerned so, understandably, we were seeking something slightly more memorable from our latest visit.
Not bad for starters was the introduction of Robbie Keane back into first team affairs following injury from the bench and a debut for Noe Pamarot. We'll have to wait for Michael Carrick though, as the midfielder has yet to feature in a game this season and lacks match sharpness.
Illustrating the huge change in personnel at the club, we checked out the line-up from our last visit to the Hawthorns, three games from the end of season 2002-03 under the management of Glenn Hoddle.
From the 16 on duty that afternoon, only one made the starting line-up this time around - Ledley King - while the departed from that day list reads: Carr, Etherington, Toda, Sullivan, Perry, Poyet, Iversen and Acimovic. How times change...
And we were certainly hoping that events would change after just three minutes when Hungarian captain Zoltan Gera - on his full debut - got the wrong side of Noureddine Naybet and shot across Paul Robinson and into the net. The ground then bounced to that rather curious boing, boing thing...
Some 13 minutes later, Fredi Kanoute looked like he had forged an opening in the robust Baggies back-line, but elected to cut the ball back across goal and the barricades were manned once again.
Pedro Mendes then nearly levelled with a fierce drive from the edge of the area, but his effort was deflected just wide by the rear-end of centre-half Darren Purse.
In a definite upping of the tempo from our boys, Jermain Defoe burst through with Kanoute in attendance, but chose to go it alone and his shot was deflected wide. With nearly half an hour on the clock, a Kanoute drive from the right edge of the area was only parried by Russell Hoult and the keeper was forced to make a desperate scoop to divert the ball away from the predatory Defoe.
The predator struck on 34 minutes following an exchange of passes with Kanoute, Defoe advanced before driving a low shot that Hoult will not particularly wish to review on DVD - one that squirmed, albeit quite powerfully, under his body and into the net.
Four minutes later Kanu had the ball in the net, but chalked off the scoresheet for offside following the hitting of a post, a Robinson save and an overhead kick. Home joy was short-lived as the flag was spotted.
No changes were made during the break and how long we would wait for a season's first glimpse of Keane remained to be seen. Just over a minute into the half, a Davis pass found Defoe who rattled the outside of the post from an angle. Davis was then found in an almost identical position by Thimothee Atouba and Hoult was forced into a dramatic two-handed tip over the bar.
Despite a little scare on the counter when Horsfield forced Robinson into a brave stop, the boys continued to press until the introduction of sub Lloyd Dyer appeared to galvanise the home support and stung West Brom into action.
Keane duly arrived 21 minutes into the second period, but it was his strike partner Kanoute who came closest to giving us the lead, shaking off Gaardsoe and slotting just wide before discovering the whistle had gone for a foul.
Michael Brown entered play for the final 12 minutes of the game in place of Jamie Redknapp, while Johnnie Jackson came on for Atouba.
Keane had a great chance to seal the game on the counter with just two minutes remaining but, instead of playing in the on-rushing Davis and Mendes, elected to go solo and Hoult cut down the angle and saved comfortably.
Injury time came and went - a point in the bag at the Baggies.