It said a lot that Javi Gracia chose to list the number of games Watford have gone without keeping a Premier League clean sheet.

"For me a clean sheet is very important," he said. "After 12 games without one, to keep one is the way to grow up.

"Everybody likes to score three or four goals, but now for us in this moment we need to grow in this way."

Building from the back will not only make Watford a tougher unit to beat, but in time it will help to repair their fragile confidence after such a morale-zapping run of one league win in two months.

And they showed the kind of mental resolve and fight they will need to keep themselves above water in the Premier League this season at Stoke tonight.

Etienne Capoue, Jose Holebas and Christian Kabasele turned their individual recent form on its head, let alone that of the team, to put in among the best performances on the pitch - and there was energy, and spirit, thoughout the side.

"We got a point," said Gracia. "It wasn’t the most important thing though, but the way we got it.

"We played with more intensity and had a very good attitude, and I think that’s the way to get one or three points in the next games.

"In the first half we put in a better performance than the second I think, and had more control, more opportunities.

"The second was difficult for us to keep on the counter, but generally I’m happy. The way we got the point, I hope that will be good for us in the future."