Unrepentant at having written off his Blackpool side's chances in this season's FA Cup before a ball had even been kicked, Ian Holloway's thoughts were already fixed on Wednesday's visit of Liverpool and a reunion with Kenny Dalglish.
Holloway's decision to make nine changes to his side might have provided him with an excuse to justify his side's lacklustre performance had the Southampton manager, Nigel Adkins, currently playing two divisions below the Premier League side, not made eight changes to his own line-up.
The outcome, then, was that Southampton's reserves comprehensively out-played Blackpool's second string and while Adkins and his players could at least look forward to yesterday's draw with a degree of anticipation, the unpalatable truth was that this was a game neither club particularly wanted to win.
Both have placed league form as their main priority and, having suffered a spate of home postponements in December, Blackpool now face nine games before the end of February. For all their progress, Blackpool sit in 13th position, four points clear of the bottom three, albeit having played two games less than Aston Villa. The first of those games sees Liverpool visit Bloomfield Road this week, triggering mixed emotions in Holloway.
The Blackpool manager was typically forthright in his condemnation of Liverpool's treatment of Roy Hodgson and of the efforts of the club's players in recent weeks. The prospect of confronting Dalglish, however, provokes very different feelings. "I once asked him for his autograph and he told me to... well, I can't tell you, you can't print it," Holloway said. "He thought I was joking. I'd just lost my job at Leicester and I had a programme and I asked him to autograph it. He's an absolute hero of mine as a footballer. He did give it to me in the end.
"He's a lovely man. And what he spoke to me about was dignity. And he remembered when I got the sack at Bristol Rovers. I asked him why he'd packed in and he spoke very openly and honestly – only for five minutes – he said: 'You must always keep your dignity'."
The more dignified effort at the St Mary's Stadium came from Southampton who secured a well- deserved victory through second-half goals from Lee Barnard and Guly Do Prado, confirming the growing belief that the South Coast club will not be in League One for much longer.
Adam Lallana, the 21-year-old midfielder, certainly thinks so. Lallana was the game's outstanding player and has already ignored overtures from Premier League clubs. "I signed a new long-term contract because I know it might take three or four seasons to get back into the Premier League, and I want to be part of it," he said. "I have got a lot of faith in the club getting promoted this season."
Southampton (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Richardson, Martin, Seaborne, Harding ; Schneiderlin, Hammond (Dickson, 61), Lallana (Do Prado, 80), Puncheon; Barnard (Chamberlain, 84), Lambert.
Substitutes not used Forecast, Fonte, Connolly, Gobern. Booked Richardson, Martin.
Blackpool (4-3-3): Rachubka; Eardley (Francis-Reynolds, 66), Keinan, Edwards, Baptiste; Tomsett (Barkhuizen, 54), Sylvestre, Southern; Phillips, Euell, Ormerod (Roberts, 77).
Substitutes not used Halstead, Younda, Dodd, Jobe.
Booked Baptiste, Tomsett.
Possession Southampton 51% Blackpool 49%.
Shots on target Southampton 14 Blackpool 3.
Man of the match Lallana. Match rating 6/10.
Referee D McDermid (Hampshire). Att 21,464.Reuse content