AP Photo/Steven Senne

For 88 minutes on a sleepy Wednesday night at Gillette Stadium, the Timbers did everything right. They defended with poise and commitment, scrapped a goal, and stood minutes away from winning back-to-back games for the first time in the 2016 MLS season.

Then, a series of small breakdowns undid much of the Timbers' good work. Diego Chara failed to close down Kelyn Rowe, Jack Barmby lost JeVaughn Watson at the back post, and Zarek Valentin was caught ball-watching as rookie Femi Hollinger-Janzen forced an own goal out of Jermaine Taylor.

So a match that could have been a point of pride for Portland in this young campaign fizzled at the finish, with the Timbers and New England Revolution drawn 1-1 in front of a paltry crowd of of just over 10,000 in Foxborough.

Bigger days and brighter lights β€” starting with Sunday's home tilt against high-flying Toronto FC β€” await Caleb Porter's men.

But, importantly, the Timbers weren't caught looking ahead against a Revolution team eager to bounce back from its shellacking against DC United on Saturday β€” and in many respects, this was Portland's most composed performance of the season.

Composure, of course, is a strong ally of Jack Jewsbury β€” and it was Porter's inclusion of Jewsbury in the starting lineup just two weeks on from the captain's face-plant against Dallas that set the stage for Portland's path of resistance against New England.

Partnered with Chara in a fairly ordinary 4-4-2, Portland ceded plenty of possession β€” but few chances β€” to a Revolution team that still hasn't found its footing in 2016.

The Timbers were also able to lean on a defense that, for the second game in a row, acquitted itself very nicely. Anchored by the incomparable Nat Borchers, the back-line looked better spaced and more comfortable than it has all year.

Such is the payoff for naming an unchanged defense with four players lined up in their natural positions, a luxury that Porter has rarely had this year. It was the backbone of a textbook road performance. All the Timbers needed to position themselves for three points was a slice of luck.

AP Photo/Steven Senne

And that luck came when Jack Barmby's scuffed half-volley took a huge bounce off the Gillette Stadium turf and looped past Bobby Shuttleworth to give the Timbers' the lead. It was a goal nearly as charmingly bizarre as the one another Englishman, Ridgewell, scored on Portland's last trip to New England almost two years ago.

The goal was Barmby's first for the Timbers, and it almost stood up. Aside from Juan Agudelo misfiring on an open header, and a nerve-racking moment of discomfort for Jack Gleeson, Portland rarely looked ill at ease even as the Revs pressed.

But hanging onto a one-goal lead for thirty minutes is a tall order, and scramble defense β€” which the Timbers have not played particularly well this year β€” was again found wanting on as Taylor put the ball into his own net just a handful of minutes from time.

It was a cruel break for Taylor, as the Revolution equalizer is most likely his last contribution as a starter for the foreseeable future, and it was cruel for Gleeson β€” who is still looking for his first regular season clean-sheet six years into his MLS career.

Regardless, one major positive to take away from Foxborough was the presence and condition of Darlington Nagbe. The Timbers' bionic-man not only started just two-and-a-half weeks after Nigel de Jong tried to separate his ankle from his leg, he played a lively 90 minutes β€” notching the assist on Barmby's goal.

Nagbe's presence, along with the gritty performance, points to an even more encouraging sentiment: The Timbers appear to be riding out an early-season storm that was far worse than anyone could have imagined after the breezy Opening Day victory against Columbus.

What's more, the Timbers appear to be emerging with a deep, battle-tested team that will only prove an asset when games like these start to matter for more than show in the fall.

On Wednesday, there were moments to enjoy β€” Nagbe's return, Barmby's excitement, and especially the likes of Jewsbury and Borchers racing forty yards downfield to force a player backwards or break up a pass β€” but mostly it served as a reassurance that the Timbers are doing just fine.

Ever since Ridgewell went down in training in March, the Timbers have been trying to stay above water. Now, only but hardly missing Adam Kwarasey and Alvas Powell, the defending champions have a chance to plant both feet firmly on the ground and begin to play.

Next stop, Sunday. This Timbers season is about to get good.