Everton Under-21s suffered a 3-0 defeat at Manchester City, as they fell victim to a clinical 10-minute spell on Monday afternoon.
Magaye Gueye and Apostolos Vellios gained their first appearances of 2013/14 by starting the contest, but by half-time the damage had already been done.
Alan Stubbs came up against Patrick Vieira in the opposition dugout at the Etihad Stadium, with the former Arsenal captain taking the club’s second-string post in the summer.
And it was the hosts that started the more positive of the two sides, racing into a 3-0 lead inside of 30 minutes.
Perhaps not by as wide a margin, but City’s lead was ultimately deserved as the lively Albert Rusnak proved to be the root of all danger in the Bank Holiday sunshine.
The Slovakia Under-19 international took advantage of space around the Blues’ area and fired in low past Mateusz Taudul on 20 minutes.
Things quickly worsened for the visitors as Marcos Lopes’ shot squeezed under Taudul just three minutes later.
Everton came close to scoring themselves moments soon after. Luke Garbutt’s free-kick was headed back into the danger zone by Matthew Pennington and Chris Long drilled a half-volley into the upright.
It could have been a turning point in the game, but on the half-hour mark City made it 3-0.
Full-back Shay Facey did well to get to the byline and Rusnak was in prime position on the edge of the box to collect and fire home.
The rest of the game proved to be very stop-start, with a succession of injuries and stopages breaking up play.
Nevertheless, Everton were arguably the better side after the break despite rarely posing a direct threat.
Jonjoe Kenny’s superb right-wing cross was inches away from being met by the head of substitute Courtney Duffus on 50 minutes, while Hope and Long lashed efforts over and wide.
With other opportunities few and far between and neither goalkeeper having a save of note to make, City’s clinical edge in front of goal in the first half resulted in being the decisive factor.
Next up for Stubbs’ side is a home meeting with Reading on Monday 2 September (7pm kick-off).