But Pochettino can argue they are in fact defying the odds by simply remaining competitive, given a crippling injury list that got even bigger after Ben Davies had to be replaced by Danny Rose.
Moussa Sissoko had to go off with fatigue and it was hardly surprising Dier blazed his spot-kick over the bar at the end of his first start in almost two months.
“When you assess that in pre-season we were the team most affected by the World Cup, lots of circumstances,” said Pochettino. “And the fixtures are crazy. It put us in a very difficult moment. It was a massive challenge for us after the World Cup and we know the circumstances.
“We are managing very well the situation. Today we are disappointed, but it’s a massive success to play against Watford, West Ham, Arsenal and then 2-2 here. You can only feel proud of the team and the effort we made.
“Yes, of course, disappointed and we are very sad we cannot play another game at Wembley. But competing in that way, we can arrive at the end of the season doing well.”