It’s fitting that on a cold and wet Boxing Day evening Wolves had the appearance of contenders.
Fast out of their corner and first to the punch, they dominated the early exchanges without landing a meaningful blow.
Hause, van La Parra and Edwards were all denied by Gomes before the returning Nouha Dicko hooked wide when presented with a clear opening.
But the punchy forward’s presence was enough to help put Watford on the back foot throughout, holding the ball up one minute before running in behind the next.
His goal, following a wonderful burst of speed by the impressive van La Parra, was just reward for a Man of the Match performance.
Jack Price earned his first start of the season and his steady reassuring touch alongside McDonald helped prevent Watford gaining a meaningful foothold in midfield.
As Kenny Jackett has suggested in the past, the bearded one has a strong positional awareness, so even if his passing range is more limited than the likes of a Lee Evans, he offers much needed stability.
Speaking of stability, that’s now two cleansheets in the last three matches, which has given Wolves the platform to claw their way back towards the top six.
OK, there’s been some luck along the way, not least the last gasp curler that cannoned off the bar as Watford finally came to life in the final knockings, but Wolves have also shown a stronger appetite to defend.
And in Kortney Hause and Dominic Iorfa, some much needed pace and physicality has been added to the back four. Both were highly impressive last night.
The team performance was of greater encouragement though. High intensity from the start, controlled passing football and no shortage of pace and fluidity.
If they can continue to match those heavyweight standards with any degree of consistency, they should weigh in respectably over the second half of the campaign.