Tottenham confirmed on Friday that Defoe would leave for Toronto FC at the end of February and the 31-year-old striker gave his new employers a glimpse of what to expect as he wrapped up a 2-0 win over Crystal Palace with a clinical finish.
The England man spun away from his marker and looped a shot over Julian Speroni 15 minutes after being introduced from the substitutes' bench.
The former West Ham man was a breath of fresh air for the north London club after he came on. And the second-half strike - Defoe's first in the league since April last year - will give Roy Hodgson food for thought as he contemplates whether he can take the striker to Brazil even though he will be playing his football in north America from March.
Having struggled to break Palace down in the first half, Defoe's introduction allowedTottenham to kill the visitors off after Christian Eriksen opened the scoring.
It could have been a completely different story had Jason Puncheon not blazed a first-half penalty high and wide following a clumsy tackle by Mousa Dembele.
However, Spurs were just about good value for the win - which moves Sherwood's team within one point of the top four.
A Tottenham win looked highly unlikely in the opening stages as relegation-threatened Palace began well.
Julian Speroni spilled a Nabil Bentaleb shot to cause a brief moment of panic in the away end, but the goalkeeper gathered the ball and Palace dominated the first half.
Puncheon flashed a long-range shot just wide, and he was given another chance moments later from the penalty spot.
Vlad Chiriches gave the ball away up the field and Palace went on the break. Chamakh entered the box, and Dembele clattered into the former Arsenal man.
Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot, but Puncheon shot high and wide. The striker put his head in his hands. Tony Pulis could barely look in the player's direction.
The miss did not affect Palace, who remained firmly on top.
Spurs boss Sherwood spent a large part of the first half yelling at his players, who could not string a series of passes together. The home crowd started getting on their team's back too.
Yannick Bolasie just missed Puncheon's cross and Hugo Lloris fumbled a powerful volley from Cameron Jerome before Michael Dawson came to the rescue.
Chamakh, so often a let-down for Arsenal, looked determined to prove a point.
The Moroccan shimmied past Bentaleb and rode Michael Dawson's hefty challenge to race towards goal, but he failed to find Jerome, who had found a way through the middle.
Tottenham's only real chance of the first half came just after the half hour mark when Bentaleb lost his marker and curled a peach of a shot which struck Speroni's right-hand post.
Tottenham failed to create any more chances in the rest of the opening period as Palace continued to dominate.
Damien Delaney lost Dawson to flick on a corner at the near post, but Mile Jedinak's shot was unwittingly blocked on the line by Bolasie.
Sherwood made a change shortly after his side left the field to a smattering of jeers at half-time.
Kyle Naughton came on for Kyle Walker, who started limping shortly after the second half began.
The right-back made an immediate impression, launching a long ball up to Emmanuel Adebayor, who knocked the ball to Eriksen and he fired a powerful half-volley past Speroni to put Spurs ahead.
Relief was etched across the faces of the Spurs coaching staff. But they were made to hold their breath moments later when Naughton held Chamakh back in the home penalty box, but referee Oliver waved play on.
Sherwood sent for Defoe, who replaced Roberto Soldado.
The striker almost scored with his first shot, which whistled past Speroni's far post. He made no mistake with his second effort.
The striker picked the ball up inside the Palace box from Aaron Lennon before bundling the ball past Speroni despite a shoulder barge from Jonathan Parr.
The goal stood even though replays showed the 31-year-old was marginally offside.
Adlene Guedioura almost scored a screamer from 30 yards towards the end, but there was no way back for Palace, who remain deeply entrenched in the relegation zone.