NEWCASTLE United progressed from Group D with something to spare but nothing in reserve.
A first European defeat of the campaign was not a disaster for Alan Pardew, but it was damaging for the understudies drafted into a United side with little to play for but plenty to lose.
Reputations were not enhanced, and the sense of unease at what lies beneath the established XI was hardly salved by another underwhelming away performance.
United are now 13 games without an away win in all competitions and it was certainly unlucky for some last night.
There is a theme developing here, and for the watching managing-director Derek Llambias it was a timely reminder Newcastle are not exactly blessed with ready-made stars to slot straight into their starting XI.
There is potential among United’s fringe movement and plenty of willing, but this Continental campaign has not seen any of them press a credible claim for consistent starts even if there have been memorable moments along the way.
Sammy Ameobi is typical of the teething problems the youthful charges are experiencing.
Against Brugge he looked like a man possessed as he dove-tailed menacingly with brother Shola. Last night, he seemed to be carrying a piano on his back and departed after 45 minutes.
Of course he is worth the bother – his England under-21 call-ups are testament to that – but he needs time and nurturing.
He cannot be bounced straight into the starting XI and be expected to win games on his own.
What Newcastle need is more ‘purples’ they can call on in times of crises.
Purple is the colour which denotes an established player at United – and too many of Newcastle’s wannabe ‘purples’ were painted a shade of grey last night.
At a push, you’d say Nile Ranger didn’t let himself down on his first start for 20 months, showing a few nice touches with precious little service.
Gael Bigirimana was above average too, while goalkeeper Rob Elliot was United’s man of the match.