Can Arsenal win the title?
Arsenal's team bus looked a happy place to be as it pulled away down Goodison Road. Sunderland were to make the journey back to London happier with every passing mile.
Arsene Wenger had not quite described Arsenal as winning ugly at Everton - but it was as close to ugly as it gets for the Gunners and this unabashed advocate of the beautiful game could not disguise his delight at the rough-edged manner of the victory.
Arsenal's weekend had already been a fruitful one even before the road back to London was smoothed further by Chelsea's surprise loss to Sunderland at Stamford Bridge.
By the time Wenger and Arsenal's players returned to the capital they had not only leapfrogged Manchester United into second place in the Premier League, but saw the gap between themselves and leaders Chelsea narrow to only two points.
Wenger needs no encouragement to talk up an Arsenal title challenge, even in his darkest moments, but there was cause for guarded optimism after a 2-1 triumph at the notoriously testing Goodison Park.
When I asked Wenger if Arsenal had shown a range of qualities in completing a task that proved beyond rivals Manchester United earlier this season, he reeled off a list the sceptics, including myself, often suggest are missing from his armoury.
He said: "The most important qualities were discipline, commitment, complete togetherness, desire and 100% effort for 90 minutes. If you come to Goodison Park without them you don't get the points."
Arsenal had these traits, and needed them because this was not Wenger's side at their silky best. It was patchy as opposed to polished, but nothing could temper his satisfaction because the end result was all, no matter how it was achieved.
Arsenal have responded well to the blow of losing at home to Newcastle United, with important victories at Wolverhampton Wanderers and then Everton.
Wenger, the eternal optimist even in the recent barren years, can see light at the end of the tunnel as Chelsea and United falter. The gritty style needed, and produced, to grind out three points at Everton will only lift his spirits.
Arsenal showed all their facets without ever truly flourishing, from the occasionally flowing football that saw them two goals up inside 48 minutes through Bacary Sagna and Cesc Fabregas, to the resilience required to survive a late Everton siege that brought a goal for Tim Cahill.
And, after being unemployed for around 70 minutes, it was the much-maligned figure of goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski who made a key late contribution with fine saves from Jermaine Beckford, Steven Pienaar and Louis Saha.
The mistrust of Fabianski does not apply only to forces outside of the Emirates. Remember the ironic jeers from Arsenal's fans when he safely clutched the ball shortly after his dreadful misjudgment gave Andy Carroll Newcastle's winner?
But here, along with an under-strength defence, he stood strong - as he did at Molineux - to ensure Arsenal held on for a triumph that gave them obvious elation.
Fabianski's error last Sunday revived the debate over Arsenal's failure to sign a goalkeeper, and means he must produce another spell of consistency for it to go away again, but at Everton he demonstrated concentration as well as quality because he was little more than an observer until a frantic late flurry.
So can Arsenal win the title? The unpredictable nature of this season's Premier League suggests there will be surprises along the way and they have every right to regard themselves as serious contenders.
Greater tests lie ahead than that posed by a lightweight Everton, lightweight for three quarters of this game at least, and I still require more hard evidence to be convinced Arsenal will remain a match for Chelsea and United over the long haul.
Arsenal have disappointed before, and results against Chelsea and United will be a more accurate measure of their aspirations, no matter how worthy the wins at Wolves and Everton.
And as further food for thought for Arsenal and their exultant travelling support, Everton were still able to carve out seven openings after they went two goals up - a cause for concern even with a reconstructed rearguard.
But there were signs of added mettle in Arsenal at Goodison Park, a willingness to mix it when the going got tough. And even if, whisper this, Wenger has sacrificed just a touch of his purist principles in exchange for pragmatism, it may be for the greater good when it comes to winning trophies, even if that trophy is not the title.
Alex Song was a tireless shield for Arsenal's back four, while Samir Nasri showed why he is an idol at the Emirates with another inventive performance. Cesc Fabregas was as influential as ever, although there was also an unsavoury side to his performance in his constant dialogue with referee Howard Webb and an ill-judged lunge at Sylvain Distin that earned him a booking.
Jack Wilshere's afternoon was cut short by 45 minutes because of fatigue as well as a few uncompromising bashes from John Heitinga, whose own mindless approach saw him removed by Everton manager David Moyes at half-time to avoid the prospect of Webb repeating the red card he showed the Netherlands international in the World Cup final.
Absent friends will also warm Wenger's heart as he plots for later in the campaign. The win was earned without the injured Thomas Vermaelen and suspended Laurent Koscielny. Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott were only on the bench while Nicklas Bendtner (who Wenger is keen to keep despite an unwise outburst about his exclusion from the side) was injured.
So Wenger has power to add to the squad that has closed in on leaders Chelsea. Outside contenders yes, but contenders? Why not.
As for Everton, manager Moyes was left frustrated by a performance that only sparked into life when it was too late. Everton had some justifiable complaints about another unconvincing performance from referee Webb, who was erratic throughout and received a barrage of abuse from Goodison Park at the interval and at full-time.
Everton felt particularly aggrieved when Sebastien Squilacci escaped a red card when he hauled Saha down as he went through, anger that was exacerbated by a general mood of perceived injustice around Goodison almost every time Webb blew his whistle.
The biggest problem for Everton in this unfulfilling season is not, however, officialdom. It is a powder-puff attack and the lack of performance from influential stars such as Mikel Arteta who was, and this is putting it kindly, awful.
Everton would only normally remove Arteta from the action as a last resort or through injury, but here it was as a merciful release from his struggles. The gifted Spaniard was slow to react when Sagna opened the scoring and was caught in possession when Fabregas doubled Arsenal's advantage.
Moyes did not sugar the pill, admitting Everton had not performed well. He requires funds to deliver the reliable marksman and injection of quality he needs, but chairman Bill Kenwright is unlikely to be able to find them unless there are dramatic developments in coming weeks.
So does he cash in on the likes of Heitinga or Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, not one of Moyes' finest moments in the market at an exorbitant £10m, in January or does he also part with the gifted Pienaar in that window, having admitted he is likely to leave for nothing in the summer anyway?
Everton are hardly at crisis point, but the season is not quite fulfilling expectations. Tough choices for Moyes because Everton need to find a spearhead, as well as a spark, from somewhere.
There is still the genuine prospect for improvement in the league, but Moyes will be grimly aware that the FA Cup is now the only avenue open to him as a way of winning his first trophy in more than eight years at Goodison Park.
Arsenal's sights are set higher at home and abroad. And while they still have some way to go to suggest this really is the season the trophy drought will end, Wenger and his men can look back on this performance, and the entire weekend, with pleasure.