TRANMERE Rovers' FA Cup dreams dissolved under a 5-0 demolition by Derby County on Saturday.
The Championship side took the lead shortly before half time at Pride Park and added four more goals in the second to book their place in the fourth round.
Manager Ronnie Moore made one change to his side that started on New Year's Day as Cole Stockton came into the starting line-up after on-loan Jake Cassidy had returned to Wolves.
Moore said: "When we played Swindon we lost 5-0 and got battered.
"On Saturday we lost 5-0 but we played well, which sounds incredible when you look at the goals we conceded.
"Three came from 25 yards, which you don’t see many go past Fonners normally.
"The other two were a case of our players saying 'I'll kick it to you, you kick it to me' and by the time they’d made their mind up the ball had gone into our goal.”
It was a grim afternoon for Tranmere, who were making their first appearance in the third round for three years.
But they had started brightly, almost taking the lead after three minutes only for centre-back Ash Taylor to head Andy Robinson's floating corner wide.
Rovers continued to create chances with Derby goalkeeper Adam Legzdins having to hold on to a Donervon Daniels header from Adam McGurk's free-kick.
But visiting keeper Owain fon Williams put his side in trouble minutes before half-time when a shot wriggled under his body and into the path of a Derby player, who tapped the ball into the empty net.
The Rams added a second nine minutes after the interval and they sealed matters with a third on the hour when Rovers failed to clear their lines.
Ronnie said: "The turning point for me was the first goal.
"I thought we probably edged the first half so to concede was disappointing for us. We were flat at half time but to be fair, the keeper has been fantastic for us this season.
"He's made some unbelievable saves and he feels deep down he should have saved it but I'm not going to criticise him. He'll come back and hopefully keep a clean sheet next week.
"The basic defending just after half time was poor and really, we gifted them three goals but I think we can take a lot of positives out of the first half.
"I didn't think 5-0 was a reflection on how the game was."
Last time Rovers were beaten 5-0 they went on to win the next three league games on the trot – and Rovers remain top of the table with 50 points by virtue of superior goal difference to second place Doncaster.
They resume their campaign on Saturday at Prenton Park against eighth-placed Crawley Town.
Moore said: "We've got a tough game against Crawley.
"In fact, the next four games are really important for us. They are meaty games which could have a big, big say on where we are in the league at the end of January.
"If we are still in the top six, with 16 games to go we could be still be in with half a shout at staying in top of the table by the end of the season.”