FULHAM summoned up the spirit of their second half fightback against Man City of a few weeks ago to push Spurs all the way at the Cottage.
They deserved at least a share of the spoils for a superb second half of unrelenting pressure, but could not quite find a way past veteran Tottenham stopper Brad Fiedel as they slipped to their second successive home defeat in the league.
In an amazing finish, the USA goalkeeper somehow kept out a Clint Dempsey effort in a mad goalmouth scramble and officials failed to notice Kyle Walker wrapping his arm around the ball while on the ground.
A Jermain Defoe goal in injury-time made a mockery of the overall pattern of play during a one-sided second half.
The Whites' hopes looked almost dead and buried at the interval – a sense of resignation at a 2-0 deficit exacerbated by a horrible knee injury to Zdenek Grygera on the stroke of half-time.
The Cech crumpled in a heap of agony when his leg buckled under him, and after receiving oxygen on the pitch, the right-back was stretchered off. It seemed to sum up the home team's malaise.
But 10 minutes or so into the second half, Fulham got a piece of good fortune to change the mood at the Cottage in an instant – Ledley King's attempt to head a Damien Duff corner to safety struck the back of Brede Hangeland (pictured) and flew into the net.
Cue a rise in tempo and belief. Cue noisy encouragement from the Hammersmith End that the Whites were now attacking. Cue a half of constant pressure.
Spurs were pinned further and further back in the way Man City were in the 2-2 draw in September, which also featured a stirring comeback.
Moussa Dembele had an effort blocked by the legs of Friedel and Chris Baird powered a free-kick at the goalkeeper after a free-kick had been tapped towards him.
Then sub Bryan Ruiz's slide-rule pass almost put Dempsey in for the equaliser – a last-ditch tackle denying the American.
It was simply not meant to be for Martin Jol's men.
Spurs did not take long to suggest the absence of manager Harry Redknapp – convalescing after heart treatment – was not going to be a factor for them.
They were in front in the 10 th minute when Gareth Bale drove a loose ball goalwards, which found the net via Baird's knee.
The chance had come about after the visitors' first serious attack, in which Emmanuel Adebayor swept the ball wide to Walker, and a cut back allowed Aaron Lennon to fire a ball into the six yard box which Mark Schwarzer could only spoon towards Bale.
The Whites, so impressive against Wisla Krakow in midweek, might have gone ahead even earlier than that – Friedel doing very well to keep out a header from Steve Sidwell, who darted to the near post to get his head to a Danny Murphy corner.
An ankle injury picked up in the Europa League tie against the Poles deprived the Whites of their man of the moment, Andrew Johnson.
Dempsey almost made up for the striker's non-appearance on 24 minutes when he ghosted onto a smart reverse pass from Sidwell and was only denied by Friedel's legs.
But Fulham fell further behind in first half injury time when Lennon played a smart one-two with Bale near half way before scampering on down the left flank, bamboozling Baird with a quick change of angle and then rifling low into the far corner with his left foot.
Line-up: Schwarzer; Grygera (Kelly h/t), Baird, Hangeland, Riise; Dempsey, Murphy (Etuhu 77), Sidwell, Duff (Ruiz 71); Dembele, Zamora. Subs not used: Etheridge, Kasami, Frei, Briggs.