Manchester United must have thought the trip to Bristol City was their free ticket to the Carabao Cup semi-finals.
However, you can never write off an on-form Football League team when it comes to knockout competitions and United were on the receiving end of another shock on Wednesday night. Their sticky recent form was compounded with a poor 2-1 defeat at Ashton Gate.
Joe Bryan gave the Robins a second-half lead with a superb drive, only to have his effort swiftly chalked out by Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first goal since returning from injury.
As a result, it looked as if the game was trundling towards extra time - step up Korey Smith.
The 26-year-old defied Sergio Romero from close range to spend the crowd into raptures, Lee Johnson sprinting down the touchline and Jose Mourinho shunning a post-match glass of wine.
It was a terrible night for the Red Devils across the board and a defeat that painfully sums up their indifferent performances over the winter period.
Every impressive result seems a precursor for a stumble, and vice verse.
The likes of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, who have thoroughly impressed recently, but a looked completely out of sorts against Bristol City and Ibrahimovic's goal only served to a flatter a timid showing.
Mourinho seemed to let a great number of his players off the hook, when he said after the game: "But I don’t want to blame the players at all because I think they were professional. It wasn’t a case of ‘we don’t care about the game’ or ‘we don’t have responsibility’ or ‘we don’t have pride.’"
However, if there was any saving grace from the Bristol City defeat, it was Luke Shaw's performance.
Having emerged from the wilderness at Old Trafford in recent weeks, the Englishman is starting to show the kind of form that earned him plaudits before his leg break in 2015.
A great deal of United supporters on Twitter had to admit that Shaw was the only or one of few players to put in a performance and show a clear desire for victory.
Take a look at the reaction below:
It will come as a surprise to many United fans who would have justifiably seen Shaw's career at the club in absolute tatters.
Heading into December, Mourinho had only handed him two substitute appearances and his showings for the youth teams raised serious questions about his fitness and attitude.
As far as last night was concerned, though, his teammates needed to take a leaf out of Shaw's book.
How times change.
Do you think Luke Shaw deserves to start for Manchester United in the league? Have your say in the comments section below.
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