Carlos Tevez provided Manchester City with some Christmas cheer but Everton denied them the present they really wanted with a surprise 2-1 Barclays Premier League victory.
Instead of sitting top of the table on December 25 for the first time since 1929, they remain in third, beaten by the Toffees once more who registered their fourth successive win at Eastlands.
First-half efforts from Tim Cahill and Leighton Baines were enough for the visitors, who defended valiantly once they had gained the initiative and secured their first win since October.
Not even the needless dismissal of Victor Anichebe could stop them as Mario Balotelli hit a post after Yaya Toure's deflected effort off former Sheffield United defender Phil Jagielka had pulled one back.
It meant there was no dream end to an evening that began with a statement confirming Tevez's intention to remain at City – for the short-term at least – after a week of bad blood between player and club.
How quickly football can change moods.
Thirty minutes before kick-off, Mancini was all smiles, explaining what a fillip it was that Tevez had withdrawn his transfer request and how the City family were now looking forward to the future with confidence.
Less than an hour later, he was angrily booting over a set of neatly-arranged water bottles, gesticulating wildly at his disappearing defence, not knowing whether to stand or sit such was the height of his agitation.
Beyond a simple four-paragraph statement, there was precious little information from either side about what had caused such a dramatic change of heart by striker Tevez.
Although it does have echoes of the Wayne Rooney saga at Manchester United, there was always the feeling in that instance that the striker would remain at Old Trafford.