Mauricio Pochettino’s blueprint for attempting to see off Manchester City last night was clear; he wanted to rely on power against Pep’s diminutive midfielders.
Moussa Sissoko, Mousa Dembele and Eric Dier all lined up in the centre, just behind an attack propelled by the explosive pace of Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela.
Meanwhile, Pochettino’s own artists were forced to watch from the bench. In the cases of Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli, injury at least offers a mitigating factor; rushing either playmaker back risks a setback in their rehabilitation.
But it was not clear why Harry Winks was left out. The Englishman showed against Spain earlier this month that he can protect the ball against elite midfielders, but he was not given the opportunity here as Pochettino went for power.
When Pochettino looked to his bench to turn the game, it was telling that he reached for Winks before either Alli or Eriksen.
Winks was able to offer a stable platform at the base of midfield; making up for his lack of physical stature by protecting the ball and allowing Spurs to play it forward.
The transformation in the home side’s play from that point onwards shows Winks really should have started the match.