A fine run of form in December, as well as some festive spirit, meant expectations were high going into the game against a side who were bottom the league and hadn't won at Goodison since 1996.
Boss Roberto Martinez opted to make one change, with Leon Osman replacing Ross Barkley, no doubt with Sunday's game with Southampton in mind.
However, that decision would come to haunt the Spaniard when, after a quiet opening, Osman played an awful backpass towards Tim Howard.
Ki raced into it and rounded Howard only to be brought down by the American. Referee Lee Probert showed the American the red card, meaning Joel Robles was brought on in place of Osman, but could do little to stop Ki from converting the penalty.
The game was not going according to the script and a stunned Everton nearly fell further behind when Joel saved well from Ondreji Celustka and then Seb Larrson.
Things got even worse for Everton when Kevin Mirallas left the field, briefly leaving Everton down to nine men. It was later revealed that he was suffering from illness, with Barkley on in his place at the break.
Everton were much improved after the break but found Sunderland 'keeper in inspired form, he was just having one of those games where the Toffees could play all night and not score.
The Italian saved well from Phil Jagielka's header early in the second half before doing superbly well to push away a Bryan Oviedo effort.
Steven Fletcher had a rare chance to finish the game for the Black Cats but fluffed his lines, before Barkley tried to repeat his Swansea heroics with a 25 yard free kick, Mannone again doing really well to keep the ball out.
Martinez threw on Nikica Jelavic in an attempt to grab a point but the Croatian was frustrated when his late header was cleared off the line by Fabio Borini.
The defeat is clearly a huge disappointment and one that perhaps gives a short, sharp reminder as to the squad's limitations when one or two players have an off day.
That said the game was turned on its head by the penalty and red card, who knows how things would have panned out had the Toffees still had 11 men. On another day Everton easily could have had three or four so it is important not to over-react to one unfortunate defeat.
You also have to give credit to Sunderland, who were like a dog with a bone and gave everything in order to preserve their advantage.
The one bright spot is that the team can get this defeat out of their system quickly with a win over Southampton on Sunday and end what has been a wonderful 2013 on a high.