Hull City manager Leonid Slutsky admits that Burton Albion's change in formation took them by surprise for Saturday's clash at the KCOM Stadium - but his team showed they were more than able to deal.
A hat-trick from Abel Hernandez and a solitary strike from winger Kamil Grosicki sent the Tigers to a 4-1 triumph over Albion after an entertaining first half saw the sides head into the break level.
Hernandez opened the scoring after just seven minutes, reacting first to a Markus Henriksen shot that cannoned off the crossbar to head past Bywater.
The Brewers saw off an onslaught from Hull to level after 33 minutes, with Jackson Irvine curling in a delightful effort from just outside the box.
The game was to swing in Hull’s favour just minutes later, though, after referee Darren England sent Irvine off for a second bookable offence.
Hull came flying out the blocks in the second half, and the front-line that terrorised so many teams two seasons ago when Hernandez fired Hull to the Premier League haunted the Brewers.
The Tigers' victory may have come through a Brewers' mistake - Albion were in the ascendancy when Irvine was sent off, with renewed belief after the Australian's goal - but Slutsky certainly did his homework.
The former Russian national team manager did his homework on his side's opponents. He was present at Boundary Park on Wednesday night for Burton's 3-2 Carabao Cup success against Oldham Athletic.
And Burton tried to surprise Hull by opting for a 3-5-2 formation instead of the 4-5-1 that they went with in the 1-0 loss to Cardiff last week.
"I watched them on Wednesday night in the Carabao Cup against Oldham but I didn't pick up too much from that because only four players started that game that started today's game," Slutsky said post-match.
"They played a different formation against us, and different to their first league game, with three central defenders.
"This was a surprise to us, but we adapted quickly."
Slutsky also reserved special praise for Uruguayan international Hernandez - a £10 million record signing from Palermo in 2014 - who proved a menace all afternoon at the KCOM Stadium.
"Three goals - an unbelievable performance," he added.
"He is one of the best strikers in the Championship and I know he scored more than 20 goals in this league two seasons ago.
"He was very good today and scoring goals is something that is normal for him at this level.
"He took all three of his goals fantastically well and showed his qualities in front of goal."
Clough had no arguments with Irvine’s first booking – and was frustrated with it.
But he questioned whether the second challenge was any different to one on Luke Murphy later in the game which did not see the offender receive a yellow card.
“Luke Murphy got brought down here when he went breaking, about 20 yards further forward, and there was no yellow card,” added Clough.
“I didn't easily see the difference. I asked the fourth official, and he couldn't tell me the difference between the two challenges.
“But the petulance of the first challenge is the more upsetting one.”