The Australian will never be the flashiest of top flight stars but, for Everton at least, he is as indispensable as any Ronaldo, Fabregas or Lampard.
Drafted in as an emergency striker, Cahill capped an impressive display with a stoppage-time winner that keeps the Merseysiders on course for another top six finish.
Cahill had no right to win the ball over the towering Micah Richards but when Leon Osman floated in the corner, he rose highest to send a header beyond the diving Joe Hart.
“It is all about playing for the team and playing for each other,” Cahill said.
“This is a results business and we needed a result so badly. It is great to pick ourselves up like this.”
City are now closer to the Championship than Europe, and although manager Mark Hughes appears calm about their standing in the table, he wants his players to raise their game before the new year.
Struggling West Brom are next up, followed by Hull and then his former club Blackburn, who are in danger of the drop.
Hughes said: “We need to show a little bit more personality on the ball. We should never have lost to Everton so we have to put it behind us.”
DID YOU KNOW? Seven of Everton’s last 10 goals have been netted in the final 10 minutes of matches.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Tim Cahill (Everton): One of the top flight’s most under-rated performers. His work-rate and clinical touch in the area were decisive.
MANCHESTER CITY (4-4-2): Hart 6, Zabaleta 6, Richards 5, Dunne 6, Ball 6, Ireland 6, Kompany 5, Elano 6, Wright-Phillips 7, Benjani 6 (Jo 46, 4), Robinho 5 (Vassell 82, 5).
Subs Not Used: Schmeichel, Onuoha, Fernandes, Hamann, Ben-Haim.
EVERTON (4-4-2): Howard 7, Neville 7, Yobo 5, Jagielka 6, Lescott 6, Osman 6, Pienaar 6, Fellaini 7, Castillo 6, Arteta 6, Cahill 7.
Subs Not Used: Nash, Hibbert, Baines, Van der Meyde, Rodwell, Jutkiewicz, Gosling.
REFEREE: Mark Halsey (Lancashire) 7: The game’s lack of flow was not the fault of the officials.
MATCH RATING: ** If ever a game deserved to finish goalless, it was this.