A young Burton Albion side fell to a 4-1 defeat at Midland Football League Premier Division side Rocester in a game that will have offered priceless experience for the Albion players involved.
With Premier League West Bromwich Albion on the horizon on Wednesday, it was a squad almost entirely made up of academy Brewers that travelled to Hillsfield, with Marcus Dinanga the most senior figure in the side.
He started up front alongside James Harrison, with Charlie Dowd in behind as a more advanced central midfielder and Jack Bromfield sat deeper.
Jake Davies and Tristan Matthews were the wingers, while Tom Hammerton - who replaced Jake Buxton in Saturday's draw with Matlock Town - Regan Ganley, Max Smith and Charlie Oddy at the back.
Callum Hawkins - another to have already featured so far this summer for Albion's senior side - was between the sticks - and he was helpless to prevent the Romans taking a third-minute lead.
The hosts' intensity and superior physicality in the challenge told from kick-off, and after a battle was won on the right flank, the subsequent corner was swung in and onto the head of Rob Ritchie-Smith, who guided it towards the far post, where it nestled in the corner via a touch from Oli Roome.
While the pacy Dinanga was showing intent to push runs in behind the Rocester defence with the help of Dowd's passing, Albion struggled to gain a foothold early doors against a side vastly stronger and more experienced.
It meant a busy time for Hawkins, who dived brilliantly to deny Joe Brockley's powerful free-kick and then commanded his area well as a series of long, looping balls flew into the box.
He was unable to deny a stunning second for the hosts after 18 minutes, though. Callum Riddell showed quick feet to touch possession in between the attempted challenges of Hammerton and Dowd, before unleashing a fierce dipping drive that flew unchecked into the back of the net.
Dowd looked a likely figure if anyone was to unpick the Romans defence for a Burton response. But while he roamed well in the final third and played some good passes, he was occasionally caught too long in possession.
Davies was the man to ask some questions, dragging a left-footed effort just wide of the near post as he cut inside before bursting down the left flank moments later and cutting back for the lurking Dinanga. Good positional sense, but his shot was duly blocked.
To the credit of the young Brewers, the second half was a more even affair. Part of this was down to their fitness shining through, and some fresh legs helping to stretch the Rocester back line and free up space in the channels.
Ganley and Smith - until he hobbled off after being caught late by Scott Wesson - were admirably solid in the air at centre-half whenever the Romans went direct, and more control was shown playing out from the back.
Hammerton at right-back played his part with that.
It was perhaps slightly harsh on the young visitors, then, that Wesson popped up twice in the latter stages to double their arrears
His first effort was laid on by the impressive Martin Smyth, while his second owed much to Chris Martin's through ball. Both were finished with tidy, composed strikes though.
The final say, at least, was given to the tenacious Brewers. Davies battled well for a loose ball inside the Rocester box, and when it broke for him, he squared for substitute Kyle Clamp, whose finish was as good as either of Wesson's, an impudent stroke with the outside of his right foot sending it past the advancing Alex Langridge in the home goal.
It added up to a hugely valuable 90 minutes for the side watched over by Dan Robinson and Sam Rose, against a senior step-five side who did not let up in their intensity throughout the game.
The Brewers first team will be next to step up to the plate against the Baggies on Wednesday, while many of the side who tackled the Romans could again gain some experience when Arnold Town host Albion a day later.