The talk was of how Bent would surely score against his old club, as is the way of these things, following his £10million move from Tottenham to Sunderland in the summer.
After a penalty miss yesterday, perhaps Black Cats boss Steve Bruce, would have been better off signing Harry Redknapp's wife. The Spurs manager famously declared last season that his spouse, Sandra, would surely have scored with a simple chance that Bent had missed against Portsmouth.
And here was more evidence of the striker's waywardness as he saw his weak spot-kick saved by Heurelho Gomes, the Brazilian goalkeeper having one of his wonder, rather than blunder, days.
'That's why we sold you,' sang the unforgiving Tottenham fans, who added 'We'd rather have Sandra,' as Bent looked crestfallen, his impressive start to his time with his new club, yielding eight early season goals, now marred.
Off the mark: Keane notches his eighth goal of the campaign
Bent's wastefulness came with Spurs flattered by a single-goal leadgiven to them by Robbie Keane.
But, after the miss, Sunderland's heartssank and Tom Huddlestone thumped home a pile-driven second goal tosecure a welcome three points, after two defeats, and take Tottenhamback into the top four.
'The turning point was Bent's penalty,'lamented manager Bruce.
'Since the beach ball incident we have had noluck at all. It could have been four in the first half. I don'tunderstand this result.'
His Spurs counterpart Redknapp said: 'I cansee how they feel hard-done-by because we didn't play well today. Weplayed well against Stoke and lost and today we were fortunate and gotthree points. The goalkeeper had a fantastic day.
'It's early days andManchester City and Aston Villa are going to be right there as well,but there is no reason we can't go for the top four.'
With Aaron Lennonout injured, Redknapp employed a diamond midfield - 'but it didn'tsparkle,' he agreed - with Keane playing just behind Peter Crouch andJermain Defoe.
Unhappy return: Heurelho Gomes saves Bent's spot kick
While it should have given Spurs an attacking look, itmeant they were lacking in width and struggled for rhythm as a result.
Indeed, their confidence looking shaky, they might have fallen behindearly on when Bent sent in a low cross which Jordan Hendersonside-footed wide from just eight yards.
Reprieved, Tottenham soon gotthe boost they needed with a goal. Benoit Assou-Ekotto crossed from theleft and Crouch headed down for Keane to steal in at the far post andvolley goalwards, the ball rebounding off him and into the net afterCraig Gordon had saved his first attempt.
Injury-hit themselves,Sunderland continued to create. They reckoned they should have had apenalty earlier than the one that came with Gomes and Bent againcolliding in going for the same ball.
'A stone cold penalty,' saidBruce, though referee Kevin Friend could be forgiven for not giving itas the ball squirmed away, off whom it was uncertain.
Flying high: Huddlestone's stunning strike secured the three points as Spurs move into fourth
When Gomes wasbeaten, Reid's thumping shot from 35 yards looped over him butrebounded away off a post.
The goal Sunderland deserved should havecome six minutes into the second half. Kieran Richardson played a finethrough ball for Bent, who reached it ahead of Gomes and duly went downunder his challenge for a penalty.
The striker appeared to change hismind about where to place the kick, however, and Gomes saved low to hisleft.
It took Redknapp's replacement of Keane with Niko Kranjcar on theleft to turn the tide. Immediately, Spurs looked better balanced and asecond goal arrived, if scarcely deserved.
The Croat played a long ballforward, which Defoe controlled well and held up before laying off apass to Huddlestone, who drove it home from 20 yards via the undersideof the crossbar to seal the game, Sunderland's hearts sinking afterthat.
Thus was the first job of Marton Fulop, replacing the injuredGordon, to pick the ball out of the net.
He was the fifth ex-Spur inthe Sunderland line-up to take the field. No prizes for guessing thesickest.
Spurs boss Redknapp backs poacher Defoe for golden bootSunderland boss Steve Bruce is a Law unto himselfSUNDERLAND AFC