Everton manager David Moyes blamed a poor start, rather than his team selection, as Leeds secured a 2-1 victory in the Capital One Cup third round clash at Elland Road.
The Premier League's third-placed side arrived in West Yorkshire as one of the favourites to lift the trophy, but left a rain-sodden Elland Road after having their noses bloodied by the Championship battlers.
Moyes made six alterations to the team which won convincingly at Swansea on Saturday, giving breathers to the likes of Leighton Baines, Tim Howard and Phil Jagielka, but his starting line-up still featured the likes of Sylvain Distin, Marouane Fellaini and Steven Naismith.
But the Toffees, be it before or after Nikica Jelavic, Phil Neville and Steven Pienaar were thrown on as part of an unsuccessful rescue mission, were never able to settle on the ball as Aidy White gave Leeds a fourth-minute lead and the excellent Rodolph Austin doubled it with 20 minutes left.
Distin reduced the deficit with a header but Everton had left themselves with too big a mountain to climb, something Moyes was quick to acknowledge.
"We were not very good in the first half, but we got better in the second, but not as good as we've been playing," he said.
"We started terribly, gave them the initiative and lost the game in the opening 20 minutes due to the way we started. We gave away a really poor first goal and left ourselves trying to get back into the game."
On whether or not his decision to rest some players was key, he added: "These boys are in the squad and have to be able to show they can come in and play. If you don't use them, what's the point in having them? The players want to play and be involved."
Moyes' assistant Steve Round on Monday spoke of the club's desire to eventually lift this competition which, despite their Premier League form, is widely viewed as their best chance of silverware.
That has now passed for another season at least, leaving Moyes to rue a missed opportunity.
"It's a chance if you get good draws and you play well," he said. "If you get difficult draws it makes it harder and so does not playing well. We had a combination of that."