David Moyes had told Jack Rodwell to start imposing himself on games just as the Sunderland midfielder ended a remarkable unwanted record in Saturday's win at Crystal Palace.
The crucial 4-0 victory represented the first Premier League fixture for 1,370 days in which Rodwell had started for the winning team, having last done so 39 matches ago when Manchester City defeated West Brom in May 2013.
It could also provide the platform 20th-placed Sunderland required to revive their season, in the same way the once-promising Rodwell can perhaps play with greater freedom now that that run is at an end,
Rodwell was taken off with a hamstring injury after two goals from Jermain Defoe and further finishes from Lamine Kone and Didier Ndong had essentially secured victory, but Moyes has urged him to rediscover the potential he demonstrated when making his Everton debut aged 17.
"(Rodwell's record) has crossed my mind a few times," said Moyes, 53, Everton's manager that day in March 2008. "As a manager you would be stupid not to look at something like that.
"I was actually going to mention it but I thought I wouldn't draw attention to it.
"But Jack's actually been playing well recently and actually (on Saturday) I said 'It's about time you started to take grip of games, you're not a boy any more. Get over it, start getting on it. Isn't it time you started to show you are a top player, and you can be a top player. But you need to start grasping games'.
"He is comfortable on the ball and we want him to take more responsibility and help make us play and he did that.
"I wasn't losing patience with him. (But) we were on at him to make sure kept getting the ball and trying to make us play.
"He has got a different body now to (achieve his potential), and he has to think about that and the way he plays. When he was really young he had great energy. He's still got great energy but he is getting older so he has to know what to do with it.
"He has had terrible problems with injuries and I have just got to hope he hasn't got a serious hamstring injury because he's only just back, three or four weeks on it, so it will be a big blow if we lose him."
Saturday's result brought Sunderland level on points with Palace, who appear at their greatest risk of relegation since their promotion from the Championship in 2013.
The appointment of Sam Allardyce - whose experienced in battling relegation has long been highly-regarded - to oversee a relatively strong squad before Christmas appeared to leave them on course for survival, but they have continued to struggle and left the manager "shocked".
"All the damage was done in the first-half which was hugely disappointing," said the 62-year-old.
"It shocked me a great deal. There's spells in the game that have upset me when we've been in a game and thrown it away like at West Ham, where the first shot they had on target was a goal and we lost 3-0. We talked about that at length.
"With them scoring so early, we just didn't overcome that with the discipline and experience that these players have."
A supporter broke onto the pitch at half-time, with Palace 4-0 down, to confront Damien Delaney, and the manager said: "Fans will show their disapproval when they've paid their money - not that way.
"The booing I expected. But they shouldn't be jumping onto the pitch and confronting a player."