Whereas the predominance of El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) mode in the tropical Pacific sea surface temperature (SST) variability is well established, no such consensus seems to have been reached by climate scientists regarding the Indian Ocean. While a number of researchers think that the Indian Ocean SST variability is dominated by an active dipolar type mode of variability, similar to ENSO, others suggest that the variability is mostly passive and behaves like an autocorrelated noise. For example, it is suggested recently that the Indian Ocean SST variability is consistent with the null hypothesis of a homogeneous diffusion process. However, the existence of the basin wide warming trend represents a deviation from a homogeneous diffusion process, which needs to be considered. An efficient way of detrending, based on differencing, is introduced and applied to the Hadley Centre ice and SST. The filtered SST anomalies over the basin (23.5N to 29.5S, 30.5E to 119.5E) are then analysed and found to be inconsistent with the null hypothesis on intraseasonal and interannual timescales. The same differencing method is then applied to the smaller tropical Indian Ocean domain. This smaller domain is also inconsistent with the null hypothesis on intraseasonal and interannual timescales. In particular, it is found that the leading mode of variability yields the Indian Ocean dipole, and departs significantly from the null hypothesis only in the autumn season.