Barnsley boss Danny Wilson later revealed that his post-match views wouldn’t have been any different had his side not scored three superb consolation goals in the final 10 minutes against rampant MK Dons.
The answer to that will never be known of course, but those late goals certainly eased some of the pain felt by the Reds faithful inside Oakwell who had seen their side 5-0 down at the 80-minute mark.
Karl Robinson’s Dons are clearly a side up near the top of the Sky Bet League One table on merit.
They’ve got class players throughout their side and had five different names on the scoresheet as they were roaring to the most clinical and eye-catching of victories.
But at least the Reds found a roar of their own in those closing minutes, with the outcome of the game already long since decided.
Newly-crowned League One Player of the Month Conor Hourihane smashed in two more specials from all of 25 yards - to take his tally to five for the season already - while Devante Cole also grabbed another goal to hand the hosts back some well-deserved pride.
Wilson’s mood did appear to have lifted as he emerged for his post-match media briefing following the Reds’ late triple salvo.
He said: “That was strange, very strange.
“I couldn’t believe it when we were 5-0 down. It was very disappointing of course, but I’m not too down-hearted looking at the final scoreline now.
“We can do so much better, yes, but we did do some good things during the game, it wasn’t all bad.
“I can’t make the excuse that this is still a new squad, but we know we’ll keep getting better and better.
“We have to go away and look at the earlier mistakes we made, where and when they were made, and how we can go on and rectify them this week.
“We got three good goals back at the end and we have to take encouragement from that.”
In terms of pre-match team news, Wilson made three changes to the side which beat York City comfortably in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last time out.
Leroy Lita was back in up front, while fellow front-man Kane Hemmings was handed his first Reds start since his summer switch from Cowdenbeath.
Luke Berry was also drafted back into the midfield four, with Cole, Sam Winnall and James Bree dropping to the bench.
The Reds started the game well enough, with Lewin Nyatanga seeing a flicked header tipped over the crossbar by ‘keeper David Martin and Hemmings’ effort being hacked off the line by Dean Lewington.
The woodwork then came to the Dons’ rescue. Berry played in man-of-the-moment Hourihane, whose well-struck low drive fizzed past Martin, but also struck the outside of a post and the ball drifted away to safety.
Just after the half-hour mark the visitors - who moved up to third in the table after the game - went in front.
Mark Randall’s speculative 25-yard strike proved too hot for Adam Davies to handle, and there was Arsenal loan hit-man Benik Afobe he gratefully followed up on the rebound to knock in his sixth goal of the season.
Davies redeemed himself somewhat with a super stop to keep out Dean Bowditch’s dipping volley, but the dons were to score again seconds before the interval.
This time Samir Carruthers drilled into the roof of the net after being neatly set up by Dele Alli.
It was Alli who made it 3-0 to the visitors just six minutes after the restart.
This time Carruthers returned the favour, neatly threading the ball through to Alli who clipped a cheeky chip up and over the grounded Davies from 10 yards.
Reece Brown came close to a response for the Reds, but two Dons substitutes then stretched the unasailable lead to five.
Will Grigg robbed the dithering Paul Digby before firing past Davies, before Ben Reeves side-footed home to leave the Reds well and truly sunk.
The hosts rallied superbly, though, and credit to them for that.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes Hourihane lashed in another left-footed special from 25 yards, before incredibly repeating the feat five minutes later, this time from a wider position on the right.
Those two special strikes lifted the mood around the now sparsely-populated Oakwell terraces, but the few home fans that remained still had another goal to celebrate.
Sub Cole powered in a header from close range to make it 5-3, but by then the game had entered stoppage-time so the totally unbelievable five-goal comeback was never going to even have the remotest chance of coming true.
At least the bruised and battered Reds had restored some pride, and there will still be plenty of confidence coarsing through the players’ veins when they step out at big-spending Fleetwood on Wednesday night.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Davies 5; Brown 7, Nyatanga 6, Cranie 6, Dudgeon 5; Jennings 6, Hourihane 8, Abbott 5 (Digby 46, 5), Berry 5; Hemmings 4 (Cole 57, 6), Lita 6 Winnall 68, 5).
Subs not used: Dibble, M’voto, Noble-Lazarus, Bree.
Booked: Abbott (37).
MK Dons (4-5-1): Martin 6; Baldock 6, Kay 7, Spence 7, Lewington 7; Powell 8, Alli 7 (Reeves 77, 6), Randall 8, Carruthers 8 (Hitchcock 74, 6), Bowditch 7; Afobe 7 (Grigg 69, 7).
Subs not used: McLoughlin, Flanagan, Rasulo, Tilney.
Booked: Randall (35).