Everton manager Roberto Martinez believes their Capital One Cup first-leg victory over Manchester City is an indicator of their progress.
Romelu Lukaku's late header, just minutes after Jesus Navas' first goal since September 2014 had cancelled out Ramiro Funes Mori's opener, gave the hosts a slender advantage heading to the Etihad Stadium in three weeks.
A first home victory in five matches was more than deserved after a performance which saw them negate and dominate Manuel Pellegrini's star-studded side for long periods.
"It is more than happiness. You are very, very proud of the performance," Martinez said.
"We had to face a really good team and we carried on our defensive intensity.
"You lose a player like Tom Cleverley at half-time and you have to adjust and then losing Romelu with a knock on his ankle and finishing the game playing with 10 men but we kept the ball really well.
"We played eye-to-eye against a very good Manchester City side and after conceding that goal on a really good counter attack, the winning mentality we showed to get that [winning] goal was really impressive.
"That character we showed tonight was a big difference.
"We showed how far we have come since August. It shows what we have got in the dressing room.
"We are not getting carried away. We know we have a huge challenge in front of us and are looking forward to the second leg but the performance means more than just a win in the semi-final of the League Cup."
The only downside were injuries to Lukaku, Cleverley and Seamus Coleman, the latter who is expected to be out for three to four weeks with a calf strain.
"Romelu had a knock on his ankle. We are going to assess him. I don't know if he will be available for the weekend (the FA Cup tie against Dagenham & Redbridge) but I don't think it is too serious.
"Tom and Seamus are very similar, Seamus with his calf is probably the most serious, those things are between three to four weeks."
Manchester City manager Pellegrini was unhappy with Everton's first goal, with Lukaku stood in an offside position when Willy Caballero parried the ball to Funes Mori, and also felt they should have had a penalty for a foul on Navas late in the second half.
"We are disappointed at the result of course because you cannot be happy if you don't win the game but I think we didn't deserve to lose," he said.
"The first goal is absolutely offside, Lukaku is one yard in front of Caballero and he makes the movement and then there is a clear penalty on Jesus Navas.
"But the referee didn't whistle for both actions. We lost 2-1 but I think we are still able to play in the final of the Capital One Cup.
"Maybe everyone can have his opinion about every game, playing away, playing at home, it was not the score we wanted to have tonight but it is the score that, playing two legs, you can win."