Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp didn't try to hide his disappointment as his back-up players failed to shine in a 2-0 Carabao Cup win at Preston.
Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi fired Liverpool into the quarter-finals at Deepdale, but not before the Championship side threatened a major upset.
Memories of Sunday's 5-0 destruction of Manchester United were fresh in the minds of the travelling Liverpool support but there were few traces on the pitch as Jurgen Klopp changed all 11 players and got a radically different display as a result.
When Minamino turned in Neco Williams' cross in the 62nd minute, it was Liverpool's first shot on target after Preston had brought a number of saves out of Adrian in the first half.
Origi flicked in a second six minutes from time, but the gap between Klopp's ruthless stars and their more modest back-ups was obvious as Liverpool only occasionally bared their teeth against a side 19th in the Championship and sporting several changes of their own.
"We didn't play well, that's how it is," conceded Klopp. "We started quite OK, but then we lost the structure completely and that was the problem.
"We were too lively, too desperate to get the ball. Everybody dropped and we didn't have enough players between the lines, we didn't have someone always in behind the lines.
"That's normal, that can absolutely happen when you don't play a lot together. These boys, they train a lot together but they don't play that much, so that absolutely can happen. That makes it difficult especially because Preston was not too bothered about any kind of possession, they kicked the ball long and they fought for these balls.
"All of a sudden, they get set-pieces, the atmosphere comes, we lose the momentum, they get the momentum. Football games are like this. I saw a lot of nice individual performances; as a team we can play better, but individually I saw a few really nice performances and that's absolutely OK.
"It's all about getting through to the next round, that's what we did."
Klopp reserved special praise for Minamino, on a night when he was clearly disappointed by the efforts of some of his fringe players.
"Taki is high quality," he added. "He is an outstanding moment, training-wise much better than he showed tonight but he was the most dangerous player and scores a goal, which is really important.
"He understands our game as well really well, so you can throw him in and he can be immediately a massive part of our football.