Sloppy Hammers found wanting by Wigan
If you really wanted to reduce this Capital One Cup tie to its bare bones, you could just point to the number of regular starters. Wigan Athletic played three more than West Ham United's two and ended up winning by exactly three goals.
Except this game had a fair few irregular aspects. For Roberto Martinez, there was the outrageously good nature of his team's goals as well as the result at such a normally difficult away ground. For Sam Allardyce, there was the less pleasing manner of his own team's performance as well as the defeat.
Far from crunching the space and the numbers as the West Ham manager's sides often do so well, the home team were obscenely open. If the idea of blooding such youngsters is to get them used to the first team's system in competitive action, we didn't really see it. We didn't see anything like it.
"We couldn't defend a fish supper," Allardyce said. "That's the problem. There were so many howling errors from our defenders that it was comical. That made life very easy for Wigan Athletic. It was very disappointing for me to watch that because I don't expect us to defend so poorly. In the end, it didn't matter what we did with the ball because, out of possession, we were just rubbish."
The most curious aspect of West Ham's starting line-up is that the League Cup is the kind of competition that a percentage-playing manager like Allardyce can excel in. For one thing, it came close to providing him with the only major trophy of his career, having reached the final with Bolton Wanderers in 2003-04.
Afterwards, the manager did admit he didn't expect a performance that poor from what is supposed to be a promising group of players. He accepted responsibility for the line-up - and lamented the losses of Alou Diarra and Yossi Benayoun - but made sure to state that meant a lot of his young players won't be able to so ready to "knock on my door" looking for first-team football.
"I don't regret the changes but I'm bitterly disappointed... it shows some of them are going to have to improve to play at this level."
At the least, there was the strike of Modibo Maiga, who grabbed his only real chance of the game, a few days after Allardyce had said a lot of his other forwards are going to have to step up in the absence of Andy Carroll. The striker smashed home superbly on seven minutes after exploiting a misplaced James McArthur pass.
In truth, though, it was one of the few times Wigan were so sloppy. For the most part, their deliveries were perfect - especially for the goals.
Martinez was purring: "As a team we look a real threat going forward, really, really confident and to score four goals away from home is a real achievement, especially at a team like West Ham."
Playing their way through the gaps in West Ham's formation, Martinez's side eventually worked the ball to the previously maligned Mauro Boselli on 14 minutes, who knocked home the equaliser.
Wigan were never again behind or even in any bother. By contrast, the exceptional nature of the next two, clinching goals illustrated that they were high on confidence.
On 38 minutes, Ivan Ramis strode forward to smash the ball into the roof of the net. Three minutes later, it got even better. Boselli was put one on one with Stephen Henderson to exquisitely chip home in a manner far removed from the kind of player who had such a miserable beginning in English football.
Afterwards, Martinez praised an intriguing addition to his attack, and provided a proper context for Boselli's previous issues.
"Mauro came back with real desire," Martinez explained. "We've got real competition in the forward line now. He was strong, very sharp in his build-up play and then there's that clinical finishing in front of goal.
"He had a good opportunity on Saturday [against Fulham, which was missed] but tonight he showed he wasn't afraid to get into positions, which shows his desire to succeed.
"When he arrived I don't think we were a team good enough in possession to get the best out of him. As you know, Mauro is a player who comes alive in the box and that frustrated him.
"I felt that going back to Argentina to his home in Estudiantes got his mentality back and got him hungry again for Wigan and to be himself. And, sometimes as a player, when you change culture and way of living, you've got a really difficult job before you even get on the pitch. Mauro has done that now. He's got stability at home, he became a dad in the summer and his wife is really happy now."
West Ham at least recovered some composure themselves by returning to something like their usual selves after the break, as they tested Wigan's defensive resolve with a series of set-pieces. To their credit, Martinez's side had by then added the tenacity to go with their technique on the night.
Finally, Irish goalkeeper Henderson completed a miserable night for both himself and his team by upending McArtur in the box. Substitute Jordi Gomez smashed home the penalty.
West Ham actually managed to get the attendance to over 25,000 by dramatically reducing the ticket price. Those fans still didn't get their money's worth, at least not from the home side.