David Moyes admits Sunderland's thin squad was exposed once more at Burnley as the Black Cats exited the FA Cup with a whimper.
Eighteen days after losing 4-1 to the Clarets in the Premier League, a return trip to Turf Moor resulted in a 2-0 third-round replay loss, and their performance was every bit as hopeless.
Sam Vokes' header on the stroke of half-time set Sean Dyche's side on their way and Andre Gray, a hat-trick hero in the Premier League encounter, came off the bench to score with seven minutes remaining, with Sunderland at that point still yet to register a shot on target before Sebastian Larsson's free-kick was pushed out by Nick Pope in stoppage time.
Moyes had made just three changes to his team but as their winless run extended to six games, he admits their current form has highlighted the lack of options available to him.
"I think so," he admitted.
"I've not wanted to use it as an excuse and I've genuinely tried not to, and I'm not using it here. The players that are out there I expect to play better, I don't expect them to make a couple of mistakes, but if I had other players, maybe I could take some players out and put somebody else in.
"I could do something different with it and let them know - you're not getting away with that. At the moment I can't do that.
"I've tried not to use it in any way as an excuse but it's a fact, we're short, we're finding it a struggle, we're putting near enough the same players out."
The transfer window is open but Sunderland's approach to it has already been made clear, with Moyes having limited funds to bolster his relegation-threatened squad.
The Scot would not comment on suggestions he is keen on Norwich's Robbie Brady, but added: "We're looking around, everyone knows our limitations but we are needing to add, due to the shortage of what we've got - long-term injuries, some who are close, boys at the African Nations Cup.
"We're trying, we're always hopeful, always pushing to see if something can work. We need to see what happens. It's more than some one (player), that's obvious."
Burnley have now won five on the spin at Turf Moor and will welcome Championship side Bristol City in the next round with a chance to move into the last 16 for the first time since 2011.
Dyche switched seven of his starting line-up but those that came in did not miss a beat as they performed with a swagger befitting a team in such good home form.
And the Clarets boss highlighted the performance as evidence he was not demeaning the competition with his selection.
"It's the old twist in the tale - if you make changes and it doesn't work, you wouldn't be asking that question," he said when quizzed about giving his fringe players starts.
"Now it becomes important to get the 90 minutes, but before it becomes, 'Are you changing the team with that weird edge of disrespect?'.
"I made it clear I wasn't. I believe in the players, we've got a very good group and this showed it. There are players here that make it clear to me every day that they are ready."