Yes, this was the Carabao Cup. Yes, there was enough endeavour on show to avoid this being a catastrophic night at the office for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. But Manchester United are out of another competition without leaving a mark on it.
United have yet to win a piece of silverware under Solskjaer with the club's run of four years without a trophy the longest barren run since 1989. That doesn't look like ending anytime soon after this defeat and an opening night loss to Young Boys in the Champions League. Solskjaer can point towards a healthy start in the Premier League as evidence to his doubters but the real time to define this United team in terms of their ability to challenge for the title will be when Liverpool, Manchester City or Chelsea are at the door.
"We played well for long period and gave it a good go....stats don't mean anything but when you've got 27 shots you know the boys have given it a good go," Solskjaer said after Manuel Lanzini's early goal gave West Ham a first win at Old Trafford since 2007. It finished 1-0. On the balance of play, West Ham created enough to win 3-0.
For a man that had just allowed another opportunity of a trophy to slip away, Solskjaer didn't seem overly concerned.
To put it bluntly, Manchester United reserves should be beating West Ham reserves, especially when every one of the starting XI put out by Solskjaer is an international player. And, whisper it quietly, Jadon Sancho cost the club £73m. He was marked confidently and tenaciously by 34-year-old Mark Noble.
Sancho, of course, needs time to unleash his true colours but more could have been expected of him. The same could be said of Anthony Martial, Donny van de Beek, Alex Telles, Victor Lindelof, the list goes on, all of whom were outplayed and outfought by their opposite number on the night. The 70,000 fans inside Old Trafford probably deserve better than to just see their players "having a go".
Solskjaer may find that out sooner rather than later.
The depth of Chelsea's squad this season means there will be plenty of quality options with a point to prove every time Thomas Tuchel gets to rotate for games such as these.
Timo Werner got his first goal of the season, but a couple of other big misses at key times suggest that inconsistent finishing is something that will never leave his game in this country. Moments after heading Chelsea in front, he missed a glorious chance to extend their lead, firing wide when through on goal.
There was also the chance for Ben Chilwell to force himself back into the equation after such a brilliant start to the season from Marcos Alonso, but there was little in his performance - albeit in his first start since the Champions League final in May - to suggest he may usurp the Spaniard any time soon in the Premier League side. His miss in the shootout, while not ultimately crucial, will have done little to help his confidence.
Elsewhere, Saul Niguez made his second start for the club in his first appearance since being hauled off at half-time against Villa on his debut, with a performance that showed he may need some more time to adapt to the pace of the English game. While there was a solid club debut for Malang Sarr at centre-back, and a decent performance in a deeper midfield role for Ruben Loftus-Cheek. There is plenty everywhere for Tuchel to ponder.
Brendan Rodgers has now won his last 24 cup ties against lower-league opposition so perhaps it wasn't a surprise to see his Leicester City side eventually ease away from Millwall at The Den on Wednesday night to book their place in the fourth round with a 2-0 win.
After a difficult first half for the Premier League side, Ademola Lookman's follow-up finish and Kelechi Iheanacho's emphatic second allowed Leicester's travelling fans to sing about Wembley once more - and with Rodgers at the helm, who's to say the current FA Cup and Community Shield holders can't have another big day out at the national stadium?
While Rodgers has been unable to deliver a top-four finish for the Foxes, despite going extremely close two seasons in a row, he has brought belief in the cup competitions and this time around it is the Carabao Cup giving them a welcome distraction from their hit and miss start to the Premier League campaign.
"This is another competition we feel we can do well in but it's a competition where you need a bit of luck in the draw," said Leicester assistant boss Chris Davies afterwards. Their opponents in the next round, Brighton, got the better of them in the Premier League at the weekend but may be the ones feeling unfortunate with the Carabao Cup draw.
Eddie Nketiah had not played a single minute for Arsenal this season before their meeting with AFC Wimbledon on Wednesday night but a player who seemed to have been pushed to the fringes may yet have a role to play under Mikel Arteta.
The 22-year-old scored the goal of the night at the Emirates Stadium - perhaps even the goal of the round - with the improvised, back-heeled flick from Cedric Soares's cut-back which sealed Arsenal's 3-0 victory.
It was a satisfying moment for Nketiah, who came close to leaving the club in the summer and appeared to have fallen behind fellow academy graduate Folarin Balogun in Arsenal's striking pecking order at the start of the campaign.
But Arteta revealed Nketiah has been working tirelessly behind the scenes and felt his goalscoring return to the fold was a deserved reward for the work ethic and professionalism he has demonstrated since shaking off an ankle injury.
"I think Eddie gives us a lesson every day for how a professional should be in this job," said Arteta in his press conference.
"There has been a lot of speculation around him, a lot of debate. He puts his head down, he trains harder than anybody else, he looks after himself, and he supports every team-mate under every circumstance.
"I'm so happy for him. It's not a coincidence that he was able to perform at that level and physically how he managed the game, because he trains the best every day. I'm delighted for him."
Arsenal's fourth-round tie against Leeds, where Nketiah previously spent time on loan, may present him with another opportunity to impress.
Everton have shown plenty of promise in the early stages of this season, but it's a lack of depth that has told for Rafa Benitez and his side this week - first against Aston Villa in the Premier League, and then at QPR on Tuesday night.
Benitez said: "It's always bad to go out, no matter how, but especially when you play with a lot of intensity in a game like that. We have to be better if we want to go through and we didn't do it.
"We have to learn from it and be ready to play against Norwich on Saturday, but tonight you have to be disappointed."
It is still early days for Salomon Rondon at the club, but at 32 and after a couple of years away from English football he looked well short of the level necessary to work as a viable replacement for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and they also looked light in midfield as Benitez took Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan out of the side.
Everton produced 17 goal attempts, enough opportunities to win the game, but left their 2,863 supporters housed in the School End feeling deflated by another League Cup failure, a competition they are yet to win in their history.
Given the mounting injuries - Lucas Digne hobbled off with 10 minutes to go and will be assessed - it may work in their favour to have exited at this stage in some respect, but it won't help appease a fan base so desperate for a first trophy since 1995.
Goalkeeper Seny Dieng was the hero as Queens Park Rangers put to bed their recent wobble in the Championship with the scalp of Everton on a night of high drama.
Following defeats to Bournemouth and Bristol City, Mark Warburton's side head to face West Brom on Friday night - live on Sky Sports - with their confidence restored following their 8-7 shootout victory over Premier League opposition.
Charlie Austin made it five goals in seven appearances against Everton with a first-half double and the hosts produced a rousing second-half display just when you sensed the wind had been taken out of their sails by Andros Townsend's equaliser two minutes into the restart.
Manager Warburton savoured the moment as he welcomed back Luke Amos following his lengthy absence. The former Tottenham midfielder was making his first-team return after nearly a year out with the second cruciate injury of his career.
Warburton said: "It was a fantastic evening. Luke Amos stepping up and scoring in his first appearance after such a horrific injury - that's what the cup's all about.
"Luke is a great professional and has worked so hard to get back from two bad injuries. I saw him every day in the gym working his way back to fitness. His attitude has been tremendous.
"Luke deserved to get a great reception from the fans who know how hard he's worked to get himself back fit."
For Amos, Tuesday was an important step on his road to recovery. Upwardly-mobile QPR are a team to avoid in the next round.