Roy Keane warned his Sunderland team they are not good enough to win just by turning up after seeing them only just avoid Carling Cup humiliation last night.
League One Northampton were within seconds of completing a famous third round victory at the Stadium of Light to go with the shock they pulled off at Bolton last month when substitute Anthony Stokes came to the Black Cats' rescue.
Stokes, who had reduced a 2-0 deficit with an 85th-minute strike, headed home the equaliser off the underside of the crossbar in the third minute of stoppage time to take the tie into extra time and, ultimately, penalties.
After Cobblers skipper Mark Hughes and Stokes had traded misses from the spot, Sunderland keeper Marton Fulop kept out Leon Constantine's effort to edge the home side to a win they scarcely deserved.
A furious Keane said: "I think everyone, players and supporters, just thought tonight we were going to win the game without trying, without sprinting.
"It's not like we are like Real Madrid where we can produce one bit of magic.
"The big plus for me since I have been here is our team works its socks off, but tonight, we started the game like it was going to be a walk in the park.
"It backfired, and it should have backfired a bit more. How we are in the next round, I will never, ever know."
Asked where the night ranked in his career, Keane said: "It is probably one of the worst.
"I have had some bad nights, bad days - doing my cruciate, sendings off, losing titles, losing cup games.
"This is certainly up there with them. I couldn't wait to see the back of tonight. It was a bad, bad night.
"Nobody could celebrate, even at the end of the penalty shoot-out. We should be praising Northampton tonight, not Sunderland."
The visitors got their noses in front after 20 minutes when striker Colin Larkin drilled a low shot past Fulop, and although keeper Frank Fielding had to make good saves from David Healy and Dean Whitehead, they were value for their lead.
But the game looked to be over when Larkin crossed for Luke Guttridge to make it 2-0 with just nine minutes remaining after the home side had been reduced to 10 men by Nyron Nosworthy's departure with a suspected hamstring tear. Keane had already made his three substitutions.
However, Sunderland's commendable resilience came to the fore once again to leave Cobblers boss Stuart Gray wondering what might have been.
He said: "That's why they are Premier League players and internationals out there.
"But I am not taking anything away from the effort and the commitment the boys put in.
"I would imagine the Sunderland players are probably as fatigued and tired as we are because we had them chasing around."