Vintage displays and results against Manchester City and Arsenal, as well as the draw at Chelsea, had fired Spurs to the top of the table, but at some point ambition is needed.
In recent years one goal has usually been enough to come away from Crystal Palace with three points – and for a while here it looked like it would be again – but this Eagles side showed more attacking endeavour than Spurs managed across their last three games and provided a timely reminder that Mourinho will need more than one tool if title talk is to be sustained.
After sitting deep and frustrating their more star-studded rivals, the mission here at Selhurst Park was for Tottenham to prove they can do more than just counter. In swirling wind and rain, in front of 2,000 raucous Palace supporters back for the first time since March, Spurs never looked like getting going.
Possession was rarely controlled or comfortable, and on far too many occasions Eberechi Eze and Wilfried Zaha were allowed to slip loose and cause trouble.
In midfield, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Moussa Sissoko were their combative selves, but against the brute force of Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur, they had little hope of bringing Harry Kane, Steven Bergwijn and Heung-min Son into the game.
Kane was fortunate to open the scoring from more than 25 yards with a swerving effort with which Vicente Guaita should have done better, while Spurs were even more fortunate to come away with a point thanks to a host of wasted chances by Roy Hodgson’s side.
Results against those teams in and around the title race will be vital, and how you go about getting them does not matter. Talk of players not enjoying this system is irrelevant if they keep winning.
Those victories against the likes of City are undermined, however, if Spurs don’t have the confidence and conviction to take the game to the likes of Crystal Palace. Few come to Selhurst Park and come away having run riot in front of goal, but to sit off in such a manner and allow a usually introverted side to have so much fun is cause for concern in the long run.
Victory at Liverpool on Wednesday will see this week as one of a job well done and a statement made in the title race at the home of the champions.
Mourinho’s vintage approach can still win titles, just not on its own. If Spurs didn’t know they needed another string to their bow, they do now.
Hodgson doesn’t hold back
It is not often that Roy Hodgson veers from his well-established plan. In his press conference on Friday, he expressed sympathy for Mourinho after the Portugese had taken criticism for his defensive style – something Hodgson himself is well versed in.
Sitting in and hitting back has worked so well for Palace under Hodgson in games like this in the past and few expected anything different today.
But Hodgson has always said he works with what he has got, and with a few more exciting faces in the ranks this season, the football is starting to ramp up, too.
Palace put on quite the show for their returning fans. Eze set the tone in the first minute, flicking and twisting away from Serge Aurier, before the Eagles set about dominating Spurs.
It is some time since a Hodgson side looked quite so free-spirited. They remain, as ever, almost faultlessly well drilled at the back, but after mixing and matching his forward line across the early weeks and months of the season, Hodgson seems to have found the winning formula.