The dream is over for another year.
But this low key exit is barely a blip on my radar. In truth, I’m pleased to be rid of the distraction.
Whereas last time out the FA Cup represented a welcome vacation from our depressingly poor efforts in the league, this season I viewed it as a pointless detour.
I wanted to win, but with danger lurking around every corner, a clean and swift eliminiation wasn’t unappealing.
Jota’s introduction last night had me hiding behind the sofa and I spent the final half hour preying our star man wouldn’t come a cropper in the tornado-like conditions.
Thankfully he didn’t and with a bit more luck his heroic cameo may have been enough to see us through. But it didn’t and the point I’m labouring is that we shouldn’t waste time pining over what might have been.
We have to think bigger.
There is a unique opportunity within our grasp to not only regain Premier League status, but truly make it stick. This squad and manager, backed by ambitious owners and high profile contacts can take us places.
And if it plays out as it should, there will be plenty of opportunities for cup runs in the years to come.
In isolation I think this defeat served as a useful reminder to Nuno that his squad aren’t infallible, particularly the second string.
The defence has been the bedrock of our success this year, but the back three were far too easily breached. Hause in particular had a night to forget.
Gibbs-White and N’Diaye both bring admirable qualities, but neither are Ruben Neves. Neither can do what he does. We shouldn’t have expected the same kind of fluency through the middle.
And up top, the cutting edge simply isn’t there when Jota and Cavaleiro aren’t in the team. They are the players sticking the ball in the net or putting it on a plate for others.
But I’m not downbeat. Quite the opposite in fact.
We can only beat ourselves and with one less distraction, it’s a direct sprint to the finish line. Lets bring it home.