Leeds v Everton
Everton's League Cup hoodoo struck again as the Blues bowed out of the competition on a dreary night at Elland Road.
David Moyes took his charges up the M62 looking to move a step closer to lifting a piece of silverware that has somehow eluded the Club since its inception in 1960.
He would have been hoping to see the flair and panache that has set the tone for Everton's season to date. Instead, he witnessed his side struggle to find any telling rhythm at all as goals either side of the break inflicted an agonising and unexpected defeat.
Indeed, by the time the Blues finally gave the 5000 travelling Evertonians something to cheer, it was too late, Sylvain Distin's looping 80th-minute header proving nothing but a consolation.
Moyes made six changes to the side which strolled to victory at Swansea on Saturday as he looked to give his fringe players an opportunity to impress. With Phil Neville, Leon Osman, Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines among those to drop out, Everton's starting XI contained not one Englishman for the first time in the modern era.
Among the incomers, Francisco Junior, the former Benfica midfielder, was handed his first-team debut, while Bryan Oviedo, last month's deadline-day arrival from FC Copenhagen, was afforded the chance to build on the six minutes he got on the South Wales coast.
Distin was also recalled after sitting out the trip to the Liberty Stadium, while Magaye Gueye and Steven Naismith were given the nod in midfield.
The other switch saw Jan Mucha step in for Tim Howard between the sticks, yet the Slovakian barely had time to strap his gloves before he was retrieving the ball from his net.
It all started with a sidewards pass from Naismith that was too weighty for Junior. It allowed Rodolph Austin to steal in ahead of the Portuguese and nudge the ball towards the charging Aidan White. The midfielder duly scooped up possession and burst through Everton's shellshocked rearguard before picking his spot and firmly arcing the ball past the Blues' stranded deputy stopper.
The early blow seemed to deprive Moyes' charges of the confidence that has underpinned a swaggering start to the 2012/13 campaign.
Indeed, for 35 minutes they struggled to cope with the physical approach of Neil Warnock's Championship battlers and a wayward strike from Victor Anichebe was all the visitors could muster.
Mucha also had to be alert to deny White a second before the break, while Naismith was forced to hack off the line after the Slovakian had made an initial stop to deny the in-form Luciano Becchio.
Moyes' response to a lacklustre first half was to send on experience for youth, Neville and Pienaar replacing Junior and Gueye.
The impact was almost immediate as Naismith seized upon a clever pass from Pienaar. The Scot's mis-control actually worked in Everton's favour as the ball rolled invitingly back towards the South African. Disappointingly, his first time shot flew high into the crowd.
Leeds were by no means on the back foot and after cutting in from the left, Michael Tonge jinked between Neville and Seamus Coleman, only to push his shot wide of the upright.
Naismith was then guilty of missing a glorious chance at the back post and he was soon making way for former Rangers teammate Nikica Jelavic.
The sight of the Croatian back on the field just over a week after clattering a knee against a Goodison Park post was welcome.
Yet, the striker's task of recovering the situation was made twice as tough almost immediately.
The home side's second came from a free-kick on the left of the penalty area which El-Hadji Diouf laid back for Danny Pugh. The defender fired low through a crowded box and Austin got the final touch as the ball nestled neatly into the bottom corner.
A Marouane Fellaini blast from 20 yards was then parried out for a corner by Ashdown and from the resulting corner Kevin Mirallas got a sniff only to tamely prod into the keeper's grasp.
Distin salvaged hope when he met Anichebe's flick on 10 minutes from time but, try as they might, Everton couldn't find a leveller.
They may have been gifted a shot at one when Anichebe went tumbling in the box under a challenge from Jason Pearce but referee Lee Mason waved play on and with that all hope evaporated.
The wait for League Cup success goes on.