Our hopes of competing in the UEFA Cup next season were not quite extinguished at the Riverside Stadium on Saturday but heavily dampened. Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren put victory for his side in the crucial clash down to experience and Martin Jol did not disagree, pointing out that unlike last week our young team were not on top of their collective game.
The decisive goal came on 11 minutes with a deflected drive from George Boateng and after that, in all honesty, home keeper Mark Schwarzer was not seriously tested although the boys did respond well in the first 30 minutes of the second period with a display that - to borrow a term from a famous cereal - had plenty of snap and crackle, but lacked the pop
With the possibility of European football on the horizon you do tend to look for the positives going into such a game as this. The Boro bulletin handed out before the game looked at both ends of the spectrum, pointing out that they could finish as high as 5th and as low as 10th in the final Premiership reckoning. It just shows what a couple of wins can do for you in this league, similar with defeats...
Jermain Defoe returned to the starting line-up for the Teeside Euro-tussle in place of Robbie Keane, who reverted to the bench. The other change from the 5-1 mauling of Aston Villa was an enforced one, with Radek Cerny making his first Premiership start for the injured Paul Robinson.
The Riverside was rocking just before kick-off with a big clap along to the home signature turn. The 3,000 travelling Spurs were just as, if not more, vocal - a real home from home as if has been virtually all season.
Boro recorded the first shot on goal after just two minutes with the in-form Nemeth rattling the bar from 20 yards in what we hoped was not a clear signal of intent.
A Kanoute run and teasing cross from the left flank so nearly created our first opening of the afternoon. Schwarzer couldn't read the flight of the ball and it just evaded Simon Davies at the back post.
Boro were threatening when sweeping forward and none more so than when Nemeth was set clear on 11 minutes. The run of the ball forced the striker to the right of the penalty area but he managed to feed the ball back inside and Boateng drilled goalwards only for his effort to take a decisive deflection off Ledley King which wrong-footed Cerny and the ball rifled into the middle of the net.
The home side were pretty much doing all the pressing as the half-hour mark approached, although Kanoute did have a good opportunity to provide on the break but overhit his cross intended for Defoe.
Sean Davis then brilliantly worked himself and opening after nearly colliding with Erik Edman down the left but was unable to scoop his shot high enough to clear the hands of Schwarzer.
On 39 minutes it could have been two when Stewart Downing got into full flight and skipped past a wary Dawson and fired a low shot towards Cerny's bottom left hand post and it must have been just inches wide. Davis was then presented with a chance to level by the chest of Kanoute on the edge of the area, but could not find direction with his shot.
During the first half and half-time press officer John Fennelly took calls from an anxious Paul Robinson who was eager to receive updates on how the game was going - we hoped we would be able to relay better news in the second 45 minutes.
The tempo was duly upped in the opening minutes of the half and Boro were pinned back in their own area for a good spell following two corners.
Having experienced most of the elements over the course of the day - cold, rain, hail, thunder and lightening - the sun was shining at this point and the brightness seemed to be reflected in the level of performance. Boro were now in retreat playing like the away side, but they did have the lead.
On 57 minutes Keane entered the fray replacing Defoe, who took a whack a few minutes before and wasn't making much of an impression on the game. Keane was up and at it right away and latched onto a superb Edman chip inside the area and forced Schwarzer into a juggling act before gathering the ball.
The momentum was building, our midfield were bossing their territory and there was nearly another chance for Keane when Kelly dispossessed Hasselbaink and teased the ball into the area but it carried too much weight for striker to capitalise.
With 69 minutes on the clock Mido was readying himself for action and, in a bold decision, Martin Jol bought off Reid and went with three up top. Mido was promptly booked for chopping down Parlour.
There were gambles being taken all over the park with King, for one, pushing forward from the back and leaving us vulnerable to the counter. Cerny was alert after one such sortie to deny Hasselbaink and then Downing.
The game was really, really open by this point with 15 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, Boro were getting back in it and beginning to string a few passes together again. This was the pattern for the remaining minutes of the game and then the hail stones fell once again - this time on Boro's end of home season parade.