Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola conceded that the better team won and scolded his side's performance after they exited the League Cup in a dismal 2-0 defeat to Southampton on Wednesday.
City have had something of a stranglehold on the English cup competition, winning it six times since 2014. But for the second season in a row, City have failed to reach the semi-finals.
Another anomaly is that it was a game in which City failed to test the opposition goalkeeper - only the third time that has happened under Guardiola's reign and the first since 2018 - despite the fact Southampton only had 28 per cent possession.
Guardiola said the damning statistic of no shots on target was "the reason why we were not good enough" and also pointed to City's failure to overcome a slow start - the Saints scored twice before the half-hour mark - as the reason they were sent packing.
"The better team won. We didn't play good, we didn't play well in the beginning. There are many games you can start not good and overcome and we didn't do it," Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"When you are not prepared to play this game you arrive one inch late and don't score a goal. When you are prepared you score the goal.
"Today was a bad night, the opponent was better so we have to congratulate them. To win games you have to deserve it and tonight we didn't deserve it."
Ratings: Southampton v Man City
Guardiola had named a strong side with Joao Cancelo, Jack Grealish, Ilkay Gundogan and Kalvin Phillips among the starters, yet apart from an early shot dragged wide by midfielder Gundogan they made little impression on the game.
City must recover quickly with a derby match against Manchester United on Saturday their next assignment.
A resurgent United have won 15 of their 18 games since a 6-3 humbling by City in October, and are on an eight-match winning run in all competitions.
Second-placed City trail Premier League leaders Arsenal by five points and Guardiola warned his players can't afford a repeat of Wednesday's performance if they want to overcome their crosstown rivals and keep pace with the Gunners.
"It's a different competition, of course, but if we perform in this way we don't have a chance," he said. "I know the momentum they have.
"For many years they're looking forward to being in this position. We know exactly what to do to play better and we're going to try to do it ... Today was not even close to what we are."