Richard Buxton: To win title, Leicester must not forget qualities saved them from relegation
Ranieri should take a leaf out of last season's relegation battle to land EPL title
LEICESTER CITY 2
(Danny Drinkwater 30, Andy King 45+1)
WEST BROM 2
(Salomon Rondon 11, Craig Gardner 50)
The script appeared to be written for Leonardo Ulloa to again deliver.
"El Ciclon" found himself cast in a familiar role; deployed as a late substitute, with the goal at his mercy in the dying minutes of another delicately poised encounter at the King Power Stadium.
But instead of a happy ending in the latest chapter of Leicester City's English Premier League fairytale, there was a fresh twist.
Ulloa fluffed his lines; the Argentine failing to connect with Riyad Mahrez's header across the face of goal.
In that fleeting moment, two precious points eluded Claudio Ranieri's side and momentum subsequently shifted southwards, in Tottenham Hotspur's favour.
The Foxes had continued to bear the hallmarks of would-be title winners; demonstrating the character to bounce back after West Bromwich Albion had drawn first blood yesterday morning (Singapore time), interspersed with moments of grace and style over a 75-minute period.
With five points dropped since Jan 16 and conceding their first goal on home soil in over seven hours, however, their mask appears to be slipping.
How fatal will Ulloa's moment of profligacy prove?
Leicester had pressed and pushed for a winner, but Tony Pulis' charges were just too robust.
Without N'Golo Kante, the home side lacked the bite in midfield which would have prevented Darren Fletcher's roaming which teed up Salomon Rondon to open the scoring.
Foolishly, Ranieri failed to heed the warning signs from just four days prior.
If Norwich City could hold their own for 89 minutes, then Pulis' pragmatism would have been more formidable.
Jamie Vardy was stifled, Mahrez largely contained and Robert Huth harassed against their Midlands counterparts.
This will continue to be Leicester's life for the next seven weeks.
Tough tests from supposedly lesser clubs, a fraternity to which they once belonged, will confront them at every turn between now and the end of next month; only the names will change.
One solution is staring Ranieri in the face as Leicester are forced to consider fighting fire with fire.
The reformed "Tinkerman" must now look to channel the spirit of Nigel Pearson.
He should not attempt to manhandle an opposing player, liken a journalist to an ostrich or engage in any of the other oddities which rendered his predecessor so notorious - but the architect of Leicester's Great Escape can serve as inspiration for their current title tilt.
Pearson's personality often saw him depicted as a parody, with tales of fending off a pack of wild dogs in the Carpathian mountains widely ridiculed, but the former Leicester manager's penchant for survival served him well as he defied the drop last season.
His haul of 22 points from a final 10 games in charge at the King Power was enough to secure Leicester's safety and a repeat of that tally may be enough for Ranieri to see off Tottenham, with less favourable fixture list by comparison, in the battle for the English crown.
Arsenal and Manchester City, too, face similarly challenging run-ins with the additional handicap that they have points to make up.
Mauricio Pochettino's burgeoning crop are all that stand between "little Leicester", as Ranieri christened them, and the title.
Those big dreams now need to be realised with big performances.