A much changed Tottenham side made hard work of reaching the Capital One Cup quarter-final, even against a Championship team far from full strength themselves. It took 53 minutes before Erik Lamela, brought on at half-time in pursuit of greater attacking thrust, broke through and not until Harry Kane added a second goal could they relax.
There was some disjointed football before that, which could be ascribed to the number of changes made by their manager rather than his comments about a small White Hart Lane pitch. A near-capacity crowd turned out, emphasising the importance of cup football in this neck of the woods, and Spurs would do well to field a stronger side in their attempt to win the competition for the fifth time.
Mauricio Pochettino, criticised last season by Southampton supporters for fielding such a weak team in the domestic cups - even with an FA Cup quarter-final place at stake - showed no sign of repentance, making ten changes. Only Jan Vertonghen remained from the side beaten at home on Sunday by Newcastle, who will now return here in the next round.
The manager could reasonably claim to have greater depth of squad to choose from than when on the south coast - whatever the current league table says - but there were a number of alterations too to the Europa League side, and a consequent lack of familiarity in the Tottenham ranks.
"We have a strong squad with different players," he said afterwards. "All the competitions are tough and when you play Europa League and Capital One Cup you need all the players."
As for the game: "It was a good performance. We deserved the victory, we are in the quarter-final and that was our objective."
A leisurely trot past Cheltenham, Swindon and Burton to reach this stage had hardly prepared Brighton for Premier League opposition any more than a run of ten league games without a victory, which had pushed them into the Championship's bottom four.
Not that Sami Hyppia was prepared to risk his first-choice XI either, with half a dozen changes after one of many recent 1-1 draws on Saturday, this time at home to Rotherham. He even included an 18 year-old debutant goalkeeper, Christian Walton, who like his team grew in self-belief after some nervous early scares.
He palmed away Ben Davies's cross-shot for one of ten first half corners and blocked a fierce drive from Robert Soldado for another. Brighton did also provide the occasional moment to encourage 4,000 visiting supporters, firstly when Kazenga LuaLua went past Federico Fazio to latch onto Rohan Ince's through ball, but allowed it to bounce and hit his shot far too high.
Shortly afterwards there was a big shout for a penalty for handball against Kyle Naughton but Mark Clattenburg appeared to suggest he had been unsighted. It was another moment of controversy for Clattenburg, who will be able to go to any concert he wants this weekend after being suspended for making travelling arrangements that helped him get to see Ed Sheeran last Saturday.
Pochettino made another change at the interval, forced by Aaron Lennon's tight hamstring, and it proved a profitable one. His team not only survived the opening eight seconds of the second half, unlike Sunday, but scored after eight minutes through the substitute Lamela. The Argentine, who had replaced Aaron Lennon on the left of midfield, played a one-two with Soldado and tucked a right-footed shot past Walton.
Andros Townsend remained on the right and for once his propensity for drifting inside almost paid off shortly after the goal. Soldado, switching places with him, took the winger's pass and thrashed a shot against the bar.
The young goalkeeper was unlucky with the second goal after 74 minutes. Having saved well at close range from Soldado, he could only sprawl and watch as the popular Kane knocked in the rebound before leaving to a grateful ovation from the home support.
Hyppia implied it was as much as he could reasonably have expected. "I couldn't have asked for more effort," he said. "We knew it was going to be difficult. If they make some changes, there'll be good players coming in anyway."
But good enough to win the trophy? That remains to be seen.
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