Nottingham Forest felt the absence of Henri Lansbury as they were held to a goalless draw by Preston in the FA Cup, according to Reds boss Billy Davies.
There was plenty of effort and endeavour, from both teams, but no moment of magic.
Forest found it difficult to break down a well organised Preston side as the visitors defended in numbers and asked questions of the Reds' invention and creativity.
North End tried to catch Forest on the break and almost did so on a handful of occasions in the second half as Karl Darlow was the busier of the two goalkeepers.
That the hosts did not muster a shot on goal in the second half until six minutes from the end underlines Preston's discipline and work rate.
It earned the League One side another chance of an upset at Deepdale at the beginning of next month.
Lansbury did not play as he began a two-match ban after collecting his 10th yellow card of the season in the Championship win over Blackburn last weekend.
Davies thought the 23-year-old's absence was significant.
''It was a difficult night,'' said the Scot.
''Difficult because of how Preston played, and they deserve credit, and difficult maybe because of the rain and conditions.
''We lacked flair and creativity and guile and probably got what we deserved.
''I have no doubt that Henri Lansbury was key. He is a massive loss to us.
''This is a player who is performing very well.''
Asked if indiscipline was an issue for Lansbury, Davies went on: ''He's a young boy.
''He'll learn, but we don't want to curb that enthusiasm.
''In modern football at the moment there's a lot of yellow cards that you can probably question, a lot of soft ones.
''He's a player that's coming on leaps and bounds and performing very well but we don't want to remove that character from his game.
''With age and maturity and maybe a bit of help from referees, with regards to some decisions being soft, he'll be okay.''
The fourth-round tie represented the final game of David Vaughan's loan spell from Sunderland.
Davies is confident of signing the midfielder on a permanent deal.
''I'm very confident that something can be done,'' he said. ''I'm very confident we can keep David at the club for a number of years.''
Earlier in the day Forest were dealt a blow when Hull recalled Jack Hobbs from his loan spell.
The defender went back to the KC Stadium following an injury to James Chester.
The 25-year-old has been the subject of much speculation recently amid interest in the centre-half from Forest's Sky Bet Championship rivals Wigan and Reading.
Reds owner Fawaz Al-Hasawi last week announced that his club had reached an agreement with Hull to keep Hobbs for the remainder of the season, something which was never confirmed by the Tigers.
Asked about the situation, Davies said: ''It's a chairman-to-chairman thing. It's always been that way.
''As far as I'm concerned I'll stay away from it because it was started by the chairman to the other chairman and now I hope it can be finished by both chairmen getting together.''
Asked if he was confident about that deal, the Scot added: ''In football I'm always confident.''
One final piece of transfer news for Forest saw Olympiacos striker Rafik Djebbour use his Twitter account on Friday to announce he had signed for Forest but Davies refused to discuss the matter.
He said: ''I'm not prepared to speak about speculation.
''I've nothing to confirm. If something happens I'll let you know as soon as I possibly can.''
Preston boss Simon Grayson felt his side were good value for their draw.
''I think a replay is the least we deserved,'' said Grayson.
''We were the underdogs against a very strong, powerful Championship team who turned West Ham over 5-0 in the last round.
''The only save Declan Rudd has had to make was in the first 10 minutes and we worked their goalkeeper several times.
''In the FA Cup there's always an underdog and a giant-killing and it was nearly us.
''We can be very proud of how we played and I think Forest showed us some respect because that was the strongest team they could have put out.''