Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd refused to use the absence of Ashley Young as an excuse for his team's home defeat by Sheffield United.
Young, Watford's most creative player, was missing with flu, and without him the Hornets lacked ideas and succumbed 1-0 thanks to an 87th-minute winner from substitute Danny Webber, who left Watford to move to Bramall Lane in March 2005.
Boothroyd said: 'We did miss Ashley a lot because he is a key player for us. But we cannot use that as an excuse.
'We had to try to adjust and adapt without him. We have a lot of injuries, and that can cripple a small squad.
'But everybody has to deal with these situations. Other clubs have bigger squads, but this is still just one of those things.'
The win - their second away from home in the Barclays Premiership this season - was no more than Neil Warnock's team deserved.
Before Webber's close-range header, fellow strikers Christian Nade and Rob Hulse had both hit the post, while Nade also scooped a great second-half chance over the crossbar.
Watford, who were also without goalkeeper Ben Foster and forward Hameur Bouazza due to injury, showed no inspiration in attack as they slipped to their second home defeat of the campaign.
Their best chances came in the first half, when Tommy Smith and Darius Henderson - who is still without a goal this season - saw shots saved by Paddy Kenny.
But after that, Watford did very little damage to the Blades defence.
Boothroyd claimed Webber's winner was offside, but United manager Neil Warnock said: 'I hope it was 20 yards offside.
'We have had about nine major decisions go against us this year, so I make no apology if one has gone for us.
'If we want to stay in the Premiership this season, this was a game we had to win - and how we did not score before Danny got his goal, I will never know.'