Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson will not face a selection headache for Saturday's crucial Premier League clash against fellow strugglers West Ham.
Hodgson had hoped players would seize their chance after making 10 changes for the Carabao Cup appointment with Championship side Bristol City.
But the decision back-fired spectacularly as the Eagles suffered a crushing 4-1 defeat at Ashton Gate, compounding a miserable opening two months of the season that has seen them win just one league game.
After beating Chelsea, then being edged out 1-0 by Newcastle, Hodgson opted to look at players he thought could apply first-team pressure.
"It was an opportunity for them to knock on the door of the first team and threaten the places of the team I have played in the last two games," Hodgson said.
"So I am bitterly disappointed that didn't work out because there were very few performances that made me think I was picking the wrong team.
"For the 10 players at home, it is anything other than a setback. It just cements their place in the team and cements the fact I am choosing the right team at the moment.
"It is a massive setback for one or two players out there who came into the team, were brought into the club at quite a lot of expense, one or two of them, in order to be better than the so-called first-team players, and they didn't take the opportunity."
Asked if he regretted not picking a stronger side, Hodgson added: "If you do that and lose, or pick up a couple of injuries, then people tell you the opposite. So you can't win on that one.
"That's a decision you have to make, and I take responsibility for it.
"I don't have hindsight. Whatever team you pick, if you don't get through to the next round, then people will say you shouldn't have done it.
"You play a team that is nothing like the one that played in the last two Premier League matches, but people still want to discuss the club and team as if you have played the first team."
Bristol City, currently seventh in the Championship, showed once again that they could be serious promotion challengers this season.
And a crowd of just under 22,000 roared its approval as goals from Matty Taylor, Milan Djuric, Joe Bryan and Callum O'Dowda secured a League Cup quarter-final place for the first time since 1988-89.
"They did well," Hodgson said. "We knew they were a good team and were strong at home.
"We knew about the (City long throw), but we weren't able to deal with it, and that they had some players who would put pressure on our back four aggressively.
"We knew that the centre-backs come forward and they hit long balls into your penalty area and get on the end of knock-downs. We tried to warn the players about that, but unfortunately we didn't deal with it."