Frustrated Barnsley boss Danny Wilson was left perplexed as to why his side struggled to turn up against Conference side Chester.
The Reds were held to a disappointing 0-0 FA Cup second round draw at Oakwell, with the minnows having forced a replay at the Deva Stadium.
And Wilson was honest enough to admit that his misfiring team could have easily been dumped out of the competition, but for an improved second-half display.
Both sides had excellent chances with keepers Ross Turnbull and Jon Worsnop particularly impressive to keep the tie goalless.
“If you approach the game and you think it’s all done and dusted by just turning up, then that’s what you get,” was Wilson’s damming verdict after a lacklustre display.
“For the first 30 minutes they [Chester] were on the front foot. I know they had the incentive of trying to get a big scalp, but that shouldn’t be any detriment to how we want to play.
“We should have raised our game as well early on, but our passing was miles away from what we’re capable of.
“The ball didn’t stick in the last third and it kept coming back at us. That gives them believe – and they certainly had them.
“If we did underestimate then the first 30 minutes showed that, we didn’t take the bull by the horns.
“We know that when we go there [to Chester], if we’re not up to it, we’ll get knocked out of the cup.”
Wilson added: “People may scoff at it, but they’re a good side so it was always going to be a tough game for us.
“But until it’s [the opposition] in front of you sometimes, well some people don’t believe. We do now.
“Ross has pulled off a couple of good saves and their keeper has as well, so I’d suggest both keepers were the men-of-the-match today.”
Wilson made four changes to the starting XI which drew 1-1 at home to Doncaster Rovers on Tuesday night.
Manchester City loan striker Devante Cole missed out with flu, while midfielder James Bailey was absent with a foot injury.
Youngster Mason Holgate and Reece Brown dropped to the substitute’s bench, with Joe Dudgeon, Kane Hemmings, Brad Abbott and Martin Cranie restored to the starting line-up.
Left-back Dudgeon returned from injury, while skipper Martin Cranie was back after a one-match suspension for five yellow cards.
But it was a disjointed start after a three-minute delay earlier on when youngster Brad Abbott caught Worsnop in the face chasing down a through-ball on goal.
When play resumed it was the Reds who created the first opportunity of the contest.
Midfielder Conor Hourihane and Leroy Lita combined well to set-up Hemmings, but the striker saw his powerful right-foot shot saved by Worsnop.
And four minutes later the Reds were dealt a big blow when influential centre-back Peter Ramage hobbled off with a thigh injury.
Reece Brown came on in place of the Crystal Palace loan man, slotting in at right back as Cranie switched to centre-back.
But the unexpected change nearly caught the Reds napping as Craig Mahon forced a fine save from an alert Turnbull.
Turnbull did really well to block the effort and, in attempting to clear the ball, Lewin Nyatanga headed against his own crossbar and the home side somehow averted the danger.
Less than a minute later Fulham loan striker Marcello Trotta shot wide of the right upright and, 11 minutes after that, cut inside and produced a good low save from Worsnop.
On the stroke of half-time Hemmings took too long to pull the trigger and as a consequence his right-foot shot was charged down by defender Kieran Charnock.
Then, in the fifth minute of first-half injury-time, Dudgeon pulled off a desperate goal-line clearance from Craig Hobson’s bullet head after Sean McConville’s inswinging corner.
A Brown mistake nearly led to a Chester opener four minutes after the break, but Turnbull produced a fine save to thwart the dangerous Mahon.
Trotta fired wide of the left post soon after, while at the other end former Reds’ striker John Rooney had a shot charged down on the edge of the box.
Luke Berry had a shot deflected wide for a corner as Wilson’s men continued to press for an opener, before substitute Dale Jennings – back after a long injury lay-off – volleyed over.
Jennings had a right-foot shot saved as the game got stretched, with Hemmings blasting into the side netting.
Dudgeon spared the Reds’ blushes for a second time when he cleared off the line again, this time from Charnock’s header.
Chester’s Ben Heneghan had a goal ruled out for offside with 15 minutes remaining in what proved to be a frantic finish.
Turnbull denied Mahon with a smart block, before former Bayern Munich winger Jennings lashed a fierce left-foot shot across the face of goal.
Irishman Hourihane was denied by Worsnop, but Mahon saw a dipping shot fly agonisingly over the bar as Chester countered.
And then, in the second and final minute of injury-time, Worsnop pulled off a wonderful point-blank block from Trotta and then Brown headed Hemmings’ goalbound shot off his own line.
Barnsley: Turnbull 8, Dudgeon 7, Nyatanga 6, Ramage 4 (Brown 19, 4), Cranie 7, Berry 6, Hourihane 8, Abbott 6 (Jennings 56, 7), Hemmings 6, Trotta 5, Lita 5.
Subs: Davies, Treacy, Digby, Holgate, Cowgill.
Chester: Worsnop 9, G Roberts 6, Charnock 7, Brown 8, Kay 6, James 6, Rooney 6, Mahon 8, McConville 7, Heneghan 7, Hobson 7.
Subs: C Roberts, Touray, Harrison, Greenop, Menagh, Riley.
Referee: Darren Handley (Bolton)
Attendance: 7,227 (away 2,143)