Fulham made hard work of their FA Cup win over QPR.
In the end, a 2-0 passage to the fourth round after extra time needed fresh legs off the bench Scott Parker would have preferred to rest.
Instead, the team left standing after 120 minutes was missing three, maybe four, players likely to start against Chelsea next Friday.
QPR played their part in making it a competitive tie, but that little bit extra Premier League quality arrived when Bobby Decordova-Reid’s strike broke the dam before Neeskens Kebano sealed the victory.
This was a chance for the bench and returning players from injury to prove their worth.
So, who might passably claim a Premier League spot in the coming month?
Kenny Tete played for the first time in three months, although you might want to tell Bright Osayi-Samuel that.
The QPR winger usually finds space down the left in Championship matches, but Tete rarely gave him an inch, and made his presence known in the very first minute when he took the ball cleanly off BOS’s toes.
Tete got through 90 minutes, and didn’t appear to be suffering when he made way for extra time.
The others did a job, and Marek Rodak made two excellent stops, but it would have needed another half-dozen on top and a couple of penalty saves to usurp Alphonse Areola.
Parker will be quietly pleased he got 68 minutes out of Terence Kongolo, playing his first game in 11 months.
One wonders whether Aleksandar Mitrovic was left on the pitch until the bitter end as some sort of penance for recent misdemeanours.
Having been chastised by the club for a mindless Covid breach on New Year’s Eve, the Serbian striker missed everything that came at him.
Either a poor first touch or the wrong pass before it became the single right one for Decordova-Reid’s goal, was Mitro’s lot.
He lay down in frustration at one point in the second half arms outstretched like some sort of human starfish imploring the ground to swallow him up.
Parker no doubt left him on to score, and thus restore a modicum of confidence.
The surprise will be if he starts against Chelsea. This is not his time.
What was Ivan Cavaleiro doing cantering when through on goal in the second half?
Had he gone any slower, he would have been walking as Fulham breached the offside trap.
It was almost as if the Portuguese was as amazed as everyone else that he had the goal at his mercy.
In the end, retreating defenders saved the day, but it’s pretty obvious why Parker has put a striker at the top of his January wish list.