It was unclear exactly what the motives were behind Tim Sherwood's promotion of Nabil Bentaleb when the Spurs coach took the reins from Andre Villas-Boas.
Etienne Capoue, snapped up in the summer from Toulouse, was supposed to be the tough-tackling, all-action midfielder to work in tandem with Mousa Dembele's smart movement in midfield and Paulinho's runs from deep.
But it quickly became clear that Sherwood had something else up his sleeve. The fact Bentaleb bypassed the fringes of the first-team squad - let alone the odd appearance here and there - to become a mainstay in the starting XI was surprising but refreshing in equal measure.
Sherwood's attitude towards promoting youth is an admirable one and it has certainly reaped rewards, with Bentaleb performing with a maturity that belies his tender years.
He has plenty to learn, that much is undisputed, but some of his tackling, passing and awareness for someone so young has offered Spurs a platform for the more creative players to express themselves in between the lines of midfield and defence.
There is a charming rawness about Bentaleb's work but as aforementioned, he is far from the polished article. You only have to assess his gaffe at Norwich last weekend to see that he still has areas to improve on, not least his decision making.
Robert Snodgrass punished his error to the full by slotting home a winner that day and, having squandered possession, he failed to track back adequately to put in a challenge to atone for his mistake.
So, it will be encouraging for Sherwood and the White Hart Lane faithful to hear that Bentaleb put in a man-of-the-match display against Slovenia on his international debut for Algeria.
The 19-year-old pledged his future to the African nation last month - snubbing England and France in the process - and was rewarded with an inaugural cap against the European outfit, running out 2-0 winners.
And L'Equipe journalist Bilel Ghazi, who covered the game, put Bentaleb top out of the three best performers as he transferred his fine league form onto the international stage.
One of his tweets read: 'Très belle impression de #Bentaleb et #Mandi pour leurs 1eres sélections, #Ghoulam qui s'installe à gauche, #Cadamuro solution dans l'axe', which loosely translates to the Spurs midfielder making a positive impression for his first appearance.
Eyebrows were raised when Sherwood's first brought Bentaleb to Spurs' fans attentions as a substitute in the 3-2 win at Southampton over the festive period.
Those who questioned the wisdom of such a selection are slowly beginning to retreat into their shells, however, with the midfielder offering fans a glimpse of what could be a promising future.
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