A flicker, but too little, too late.
At least there was life in this great old Stadium, an improved Sunderland performance lifting the inertia from the stands.
Their response to a Sunderland trying to get on the front foot, lead by the resurgent Wahbi Khazri, was heartening but it was another day when the Black Cats drifted closer to the drop.
Two soft, soft goals undoing gentle improvements in attack. A recipe for relegation.
A point gained, but a point that is never likely to be enough.
Goals for Khazri and Borini cancelled out by Andre Ayew and James Collins.
Of course, it will be remembered as the day when discontent with the manager became truly audible for the first time, before Sunderland's equaliser his presence on the touchline drew boos and cries for his departure.
The revival late in the first half saw the ground row back from teetering on the brink, Khazri's corner saving his manager from an afternoon of intense ire and scrutiny.
The second half chants erred more to gallows humour rather than raw vitriol, but the shift in mood cannot be ignored.
It was not toxic as it threatened to be, but search for 'stability' amongst the club's hierarchy will come under pressure if it escalates in the coming weeks.
The fare on offer at the Stadium of Light has been fairly dire of late, but finally this was a game that started with intensity.
Wahbi Khazri drove down the right, the ball picked up Jermain Defoe. His shot was blocked, Javier Manquillo just unable to get the rebound back into the box.
Suddenly West Ham were away, Andre Ayew driving at goal and felled by Lee Cattermole. He was booked, a moment the significance of which would only slowly become clear. Pickford saved well from Lanzini's free-kick, but Cattermole, such an important player for the Black Cats, walked a tightrope from their on in, never able to truly put his stamp on proceedings.
Khazri's early vigour lifted spirits, but as has been the case too often, it quickly evaporated.
Sam Bryam crossed to the far post, where Andy Carroll had peeled off Billy Jones. He scuffed his effort but it fell to Andre Ayew, whose run into the box had not been tracked, and he turned home with ease.
Sunderland laboured, even if John O'Shea went close with a header.
On 20 minutes the mood turned, as David Moyes made his way to the touchline for the first time. Boos from the South Stand were followed by audible chants of 'We want Moyesy out'.
The boos continued, but were stopped, quite remarkably, by the man who Moyes has been so reluctant to use this season.
Wahbi Khazri's corner arrowed across the box, taking Randolph out of the equation. Off the far post, and into the roof of the net.
The mood softened, the atmosphere lifted, even if the Tunisian getting on the scoresheet brought chants of 'Are you watching David Moyes'.
They ought to have had the lead at the break, Billy Jones went close from the edge of the area, Khazri forced a save from Randolph right on the break.
The game was clearly there for the taking, West Ham United's defensive shape woeful, their front four steadfastly refusing to track back. A soft goal, however, and Sunderland were left with another mountain to climb.
Snodgrass whipped it into the six-yard box, where James Collins, who had advanced unmarked from the edge of the area, glanced home.
Sunderland's maddening season in a nutshell.
Their attacking play was better, driven by the waspish Khazri, who made something of a mockery of the claims that his game is marked by laziness.
Didier Ndong has a golden chance to make it 2-2 with 20 to play, after Khazri took a lofted pass on his right foot and glided past Arthur Masuaku. He pulled back for Didier Ndong, who could only fire over the bar.
Another injury concern for Sunderland followed, and a grave one at that.
Billy Jones was taken off on a stretcher, supported by a neck brace and oxygen mask. Fabio Borini replaced him, by this point virtually every Sunderland attacker was on the pitch.
He scored with his first touch, firing into an empty net after Darren Randolph spilled a long cross into the box.
Ten minutes were added after Jones' injury, but the winner never came, even despite a red card for Sam Byram as he hacked down Adnan Januzaj.
An improvement on most fronts, but one that perhaps only serves to underline the frustration at the games previous.
Khazri ended it with his shirt over his head, hands in the air apologetic, a free-kick fired over the bar.
An apt image, in so many ways.