Stoke City 0 Birmingham City 1
The beautiful game was conspicuous by its absence at the Britannia Stadium but Birmingham City progressed into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup for the first time in 22 years courtesy of Mikael Forssell's scruffy goal.
This tie was never going to be a classic as it pitched together a pair of sides woefully out of form and struggling for goals.
Stoke had not scored a league goal since January 2 whereas Birmingham had mustered only seven Premier-ship goals on the road all season.
The Premiership has become all-consuming; granted, the loss of income and status should Birmingham be relegated will be disastrous but surely an FA Cup final would carry considerable kudos.
Steve Bruce, the Birmingham manager, said that he had not enjoyed any part of his last six months in the St Andrew's hot-seat. Yet, if he can guide them to their first FA Cup final in 50 years, he will be revered for ever.
That might be a bold statement to make with the pressure increasing on Bruce but Birmingham's supporters crave success more than most in the West Midlands. The trophy cabinet is bare apart from a League Cup triumph in 1963.
But, if you are a superstitious Birmingham City supporter, this result will leave you with a nagging doubt in the pit of your stomach.
Twenty-two years previously, Watford won 3-1 at St Andrew's in front of 40,000 at the quarter-final stage and the repercussions were disastrous.
Ron Saunders' team went into freefall and lost their top-flight status on the final day of the campaign after a goalless draw with Southampton.
If the worst-case scenario was to be repeated at least Bruce can draw solace in the fact they they beaten Reading, Norwich and Stoke this season.
This performance was by no means vintage Birmingham but it at least proved there is plenty of fight left in Bruce's troops.
Unavailable for this tie through either injury or ineligibility were Matthew Upson, Muzzy Izzet, Mehdi Nafti, Kenny Cunningham, Chris Sutton, Martin Taylor, Olivier Tebily, Neil Kilkenny, Stan Lazaridis and Dudley Campbell.
That team by itself should be capable of making an impact in the Premiership. It is an indication of why Bruce has sported a beleaguered look on more than one occasion this year.
Yet, before next week's win-or-bust match with Sunderland, there were enough positives for Bruce to claw a crumb of comfort.
His son, Alex, produced arguably his best performance in a Birmingham shirt as he contained Mamady Sidibe and Sambegou Bangoura. Nicky Butt has kissed and made up with Bruce senior and his experience could be critical as the season unfolds while Forssell scored again and Emile Heskey and Damien Johnson emerged unscathed after suspension.
Yet it is impossible to mask the biggest deficiency in Bruce's side - confidence.
A season of playing catchup has taken its toll, mentally and physically, and they were indebted to Maik Taylor for his athleticism. Three times he was called into serious action and on every occasion he denied the hosts.
A swirling wind and lack of quality ensured chances were at a premium although Heskey and David Bramer traded shots on target.
The tie exploded into life either side of half time as Taylor produced a stunning fingertip save to deny Carl Hoefkens before Forssell showed his predatory instincts 61 seconds after the break.
His goal was a classic poacher's strike and lifted the tension that had crept into Birmingham's play during the latter stages of the firs half.
It stemmed from a fierce Butt drive that was deflected inches wide of Steve Simonsen's near post.
Pennant's near-post corner was flicked on by Martin Latka to Forssell who burrowed his way between two defenders and volleyed the ball home from virtually on the goal line for his sixth goal of the campaign and fifth in cup competitions.
However, this galvanised the hosts and the result hinged on another moment of brilliance by Taylor and a glaring miss by Bangoura.
A Bramer corner was met firmly by the bald pate of Michael Duberry and seemed a certain goal until Taylor's left hand intervened.
Bangoura then headed straight at Taylor from six yards when an inch either way would have restored parity, as Birmingham briefly wobbled. But, apart from a lot of toil and endeavour from the hosts, Birmingham cruised through the last half an hour to ensure there are still two teams from Birmingham in today's draw.