Burton Albion certainly did not end this game wondering - their intentions were made perfectly clear.
By the time referee Andy Davies blew his full-time whistle, Kyle McFadzean was the only out-and-out defender on the field for the Brewers.
He was joined in the backline by Lucas Akins, Tom Naylor and Lloyd Dyer, while record signing Liam Boyce and Derby County loanee Darren Bent were in tandem up front for the first time.
On the flanks, there was the combined trickery and guile of Martin Samuelsen and Joe Sbarra.
None of it, though, was enough to break through a determined Nottingham Forest rearguard that was only after one thing from the moment they saw full-back Eric Lichaj sent off for a poor, aggressive challenge from behind on Samuelsen in the 28th minute.
Nigel Clough and Naylor reflected on it as two points dropped afterwards.
When you take into account the dominance they also showed in a goalless draw at Ipswich Town the previous weekend, it is hard not to consider how the Championship table would have looked with Albion four points better off.
Encouragement, though, will be taken from other aspects.
This Brewers side looks more and more comfortable when dictating play, with a greater quality in possession the reason for that.
Their January signings have slotted in quickly and, in the case of 19-year-old Jacob Davenport and Samuelsen, 20, a lack of experience has had no impact on their ability to influence a Burton team right in the midst of a relegation scrap.
Having shipped 15 goals in four matches before the Ipswich clash, they have now kept back-to-back clean sheets too, despite injuries in the defence.
For all that, the table shows the Brewers bottom for another few days at least, and with only 14 games to play. Positive results are a must at this stage.
This one was not as positive as they will have hoped for.
A goalless draw did not look all that likely in the scrappy, frenetic opening moments of Burton's 12th attempt for a first home win since September.
A sending off, though, appeared more likely to be on the cards.
An unchanged Albion side was put onto the back foot from kick-off.
Stephen Bywater was forced into his one and only save of the game when Matty Cash found some room down the left and squared for Joe Lolley, who struck a low effort first time from 18 yards.
The out-of-form Reds were keen to seize the initiative, while the Brewers lacked the composure and accuracy in possession that had so impressed in the recent trips to Aston Villa and Ipswich.
That was not helped by the increasingly fiery atmosphere of the game.
Burton's bench were up in protest at more than one decision by referee Davies, and there was uproar from the Pirelli crowd when Ben Brereton escaped a booking after clashing in the air with Naylor in the centre-circle.
That was nothing compared to the noise that followed Lichaj's ugly challenge on Samuelsen moments later.
The American slid in from behind as Samuelsen looked to turn down the line, catching him dangerously.
While both players stayed down for a short time, Lichaj eventually stood to see a red card shown in his direction - and Forest's chances of winning the game followed him down the tunnel.
Something that will have pleased Clough and his management team was the way his players managed the game so well from there, never overcommitting or exposing themselves to a Forest counter.
In games gone by, the Brewers might have found a way to lose this clash in the dying stages. Barring Tendayi Darikwa's fierce drive off target, though, they were never tested.
Instead, the onus was on them to break down the Reds' rearguard, with 10 men behind the ball for long spells.
Samuelsen came close on two occasions before the break, nodding Davenport's back-post corner just wide, before forcing Costel Pantilimon into a fine reaction save when firing a half-volley goalwards off a Bent knock-down.
Over the past five months, it has been the second half in which Burton have struggled to deal with their opponents and hold their nerve.
But the momentum from the 20 minutes before half-time were carried emphatically past the break - and Samuelsen was again involved in their first chance of the second 45.
The West Ham loanee has shown flashes in his previous outings, but his influence against Karanka's side was much more telling.
His link-up play with Akins on the right was promising, as were his numerous runs at and past the Forest defence, the odd fleet-footed trick helping with that.
And while he was the most regular goal-threat - Pantilimon had to be alert to tip a long-range drive away later in the game - he also showed a provider's touch, cushioning a delightful crossfield pass from Davenport into Bent's path, only for the Rams loanee to head over.
Hope Akpan fired a volley over shortly afterwards, before Bent was denied a certain goal by Danny Fox's sublime block, the Forest defender racing across to cut out a fierce shot that looked destined for the top corner.
The second half took on a repetitive pattern, with Forest clearing countless crosses or direct balls into the box, only for McFadzean and Naylor, virtually on the halfway line, to collect and start another move.
Both were in impressive form.
There was a lot of lateral movement and passing from Burton which helped Forest to keep their shape though, even after the introduction of Liam Boyce for his home debut.
That saw Boyce and Bent partner each other in a front two for the first time. Patience is needed with that partnership, and one moment summed that up, when Bent looked to lay into Boyce's feet in attack as the Northern Ireland international turned to get in behind.
The pass was easily intercepted.
A calf injury to John Brayford - the third Albion defender with such a problem in the last two weeks - meant an enforced change, Dyer switching to left-back and Sbarra coming on the wing.
The issue of defensive injuries is one that Clough will have to ponder ahead of Barnsley on Tuesday night.
On Saturday, though, the hope was that the change could at least bear the fruit of three points, with Sbarra pulling another good save out of Pantilimon, who tipped away his goalbound cross-shot.
Pantilimon's net was not to be breached, Fox, Tobias Figueiredo and Jack Colback powering clear a few last-gasp skirmishes forward.
This was only Albion's second home point from the last 36 available to them. Given that statistic, it is remarkable that they are still within three points of safety.
That gap could be a whole lot smaller come Tuesday night. But for all the positivity of recent performances, they have to start capitalising, against 10 men or 11.