Manchester City lost defenders Vincent Kompany and Nicolas Otamendi to injury as they limped into the Champions League quarter-finals after a dull goalless draw against Dynamo Kiev.
City should have been celebrating securing a place in the last eight for the first time but by full-time at the Etihad Stadium the mood seemed rather sombre, as the implications of the injuries sank in.
The loss of Kompany, with a tricky run-in ahead, could be particularly galling - although on this occasion his team-mates coped well enough without him to ensure progress courtesy of last-month's 3-1 win in Ukraine.
It was a largely dreary encounter that only spluttered into life when Yaya Toure attempted to force the issue in the second half, but the closest City came was when Jesus Navas hit the post.
Their night could hardly have got off to a worse start as Kompany pulled up yet again attempting an early clearance. He immediately slumped to the ground and the groan around the stadium was audible.
The Belgian's body language suggested the problem was serious and with just six minutes of the game gone he was limping off. Initial reports suggested he had suffered a calf injury and, if confirmed, it would be the 13th such problem since the start of the 2011-12 campaign and his fourth this season.
His importance to City in terms of influence and defensive ability cannot be understated - and the concerns with a derby against Manchester United coming up were obvious - and the problem was immediately compounded by an injury to Otamendi.
The Argentinian was hurt in a hefty challenge from Vitaliy Buyalskiy and his attempts to run off the knock - after being booked for re-entering the field without the referee's permission - proved unsuccessful. After aggravating the problem hitting a long ball he was removed and, with just 23 minutes gone, City had an all-changed centre-back partnership of Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis.
The disruption robbed City of any vitality and their first-half performance was one of the worst served up at Eastlands all season.
Their best moment came when Navas burst through the Kiev defence, brilliantly skipping one challenge, but the Spaniard then overhit his pass for Pablo Zabaleta and the crowd groaned again. Sergio Aguero did get in a shot but slipped in doing so and it curled well wide.
City were fortunate Kiev were not at their most potent either, although fans' nerves were hardly eased when a poor Demichelis pass played Mangala into trouble and Andriy Yarmolenko almost pounced.
Joe Hart also had to punch clear from a clear flicked header by Denys Garmash.
City woke up a bit after the break with Toure coming to the fore. He curled a free-kick over and then teed up Aguero and Navas, who shot across goal and hit the foot of the post respectively. He had another chance himself but picked out goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy while, at the other end, Yarmolenko shot straight at Hart.
Yarmolenko had a penalty appeal turned down and Hart saved from Olexandr Yakovenko as Kiev rallied late on but it hardly made the game much of a contest. City had done their job, albeit at a cost.
TWEET OF THE MATCH
"I could cry for @VincentKompany" - Ricky Hatton (@HitmanHatton), former light-welterweight boxing champion and Manchester City fan.
Joe Hart: 6 (out of 10)
Gael Clichy: 6
Vincent Kompany: 5
Nicolas Otamendi: 5
Pablo Zabaleta: 6
David Silva: 5
Yaya Toure: 7
Jesus Navas: 6
Sergio Aguero: 6
Eliaquim Mangala (for Kompany, 6): 6
Martin Demichelis (for Otamendi, 23): 6
Raheem Sterling (for Silva, 79): 5
Yaya Toure. Certainly not a storming performance, but was at the centre of things when City livened up after the break.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Vincent Kompany's injury. The City skipper limping off early on was, unfortunately, the most noteworthy incident in a poor game - closely followed by Nicolas Otamedi following suit not long after.
VIEW FROM THE BENCH
This was mission accomplished for City boss Manuel Pellegrini in terms of the club completing the job of qualifying for their first-ever Champions League quarter final - but it was achieved in an incredibly underwhelming manner, and the injuries sustained by Kompany and Otamendi will be of major concern ahead of Sunday's derby clash with Manchester United.
MOAN OF THE MATCH
City will have understandably been left a little shell-shocked by the early losses of Kompany and Otamendi. But even with that - and the fact that qualification already looked to be in the bag - accounted for, this once again really was not a very good performance from the Blues, three days on from their lacklustre showing in the 0-0 draw at Norwich.
WHO'S UP NEXT
Manchester City v Manchester United (Barclays Premier League, Sunday, March 20)
Dynamo Kiev v FC Zorya Luhansk (Ukranian Premier League, Sunday, March 20)