Southampton's Carabao Cup run was brought to an by reigning champions Manchester City, who recorded a 3-1 win at the Etihad.
Facing each other in the first of two meetings this week, the hosts were ruthlessly efficient in front of goal in the opening 45 minutes, with Nicolás Otamendi and Sergio Agüero firing City in a commanding position.
Now unbeaten in 14 League Cup matches, Agüero grabbed his second of the night after the break before the visitors reduced the arrears through Jack Stephens.
Despite finishing brightly, there was to be no further consolation for Saints who'll now return at the weekend in the Premier League.
Returning to cup competition, Ralph Hasenhüttl made six changes to his side with only one enforced due to Ryan Bertrand’s suspension.
Kevin Danso took the vacated spot at left-wing back whilst Alex McCarthy, as in the previous two rounds, started between the sticks in place of Angus Gunn.
Elsewhere, in came Stephens, Stuart Armstrong, Sofiane Boufal and Shane Long.
Winning all three of the previous League Cup meetings with City, the visitors made a solid start to proceedings against the side looking to defend their trophy for a third successive season.
Only tame efforts from Riyad Mahrez and Angeliño marked a possession heavy opening quarter-of-an-hour for City, before the latter finally called McCarthy into action.
Firing at goal after the ball fell at his feet inside the box, Southampton’s number one reacted well to parry away the venomous strike.
Acting as a warning, Pep Guardiola’s side took the lead with their very next effort on goal.
Working the ball to Bernardo Silva in a yard of space, the Spaniard’s cross perfectly picked out Otamendi in the middle, with the defender rising highest to head home.
Maintaining their monopoly on possession - and now with the lead - City could afford to be patient with their build-up, before a flurry of chances late in the half saw their advantage doubled.
Agüero set his sights by curling a 20-yard free-kick just wide, but the Argentinean couldn’t fail to miss moments later when Kyle Walker’s low cross found him just a few yards out.
Sensing the chance to kill off the cup tie, Phil Foden had a curling shot parried away by McCarthy before the Saints stopper was called into action one last time in the half, keeping out Mahrez’s driven effort from the edge of the box.
With the break not effecting City’s stranglehold on the match, Saints’ stopper was soon called into action once again.
Feigning to pull the trigger on the edge of the box, Mahrez’s clever reverse pass let Silva in on goal, only for McCarthy to spread himself big and block the stabbed strike.
However, the Etihad was to see a third before the hour-mark when Agüero poached a fortuitous second of the night, touching home Mahrez’s shot that had looped kindly off of Jan Bednarek.
If the Polish international was unlucky with the destination of his first block, his second just minutes later was nothing short of heroic, somehow stretching to get a foot in the way of Mahrez’s effort from just a few yards out.
Containing the hosts on that occasion, the visitors almost reduced the arrears in the 65th minute, when Boufal’s jinking run ended with a shot being tipped around the post by Claudio Bravo.
It was the Moroccan’s last act of the night, but it sparked Saints’ best spell of the game.
Substitutes Nathan Redmond and Ché Adams combined to win a corner, resulting in Stephens having a volley pushed away by Bravo.
Encouraged by their newfound joy in front of goal, a sense of déjà vu would see deservedly Southampton claw one back.
James Ward-Prowse replicated the same delivery from a corner, once again met by Stephens who this time powered a header into the top corner.
With a new sense of confidence, Hasenhüttl’s side looked to set up a tense final 10 minutes by going in search of a second, with some promising spells of possession and territory.
Despite being roared on by the travelling Saints faithful, some resolute City defending saw that nothing would come of the visitors' spirited fightback, although there was an additional moment to cheer about for those in the away end as Jake Vokins was introduced for his senior debut.
The youngster played the closing stages in Manchester, adding some positivity to a night that was largely enjoyed by those in sky blue.
Head to Head Stats
Shots on target92
Claudio Bravo (GK)
Kyle WalkerJoão Cancelo (65′)
AngeliñoJohn Stones (79′)
Gabriel JesusAdrián Bernabé (87′)
Sergio Agüero (C)
Kevin De Bruyne
Ian Carlo Poveda-Ocampo
Alex McCarthy (GK)
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
Oriol RomeuJake Vokins (91′)
Sofiane BoufalChe Adams (69′)
Shane LongNathan Redmond (68′)