CARLING CUP: West Brom 2 Cardiff City 4
On a night when the first real chill of autumn descended on The Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion were caught cold with a drubbing at the hands of Cardiff City to end their Carling Cup dream.
In the end it was Cardiff's attacking "Dad's Army" who were to blow an ill wind over Albion despite the fact that veterans Robbie Fowler, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Trevor Sinclair share a combined total of 101 years between them.
Albion manager Tony Mowbray chose to make half-a-dozen changes to the side who beat Scunthorpe United in the Championship with the injured Paul Robinson absent while striker Kevin Phillips was rested and midfielder Filipe Teixeira started on the bench.
Shelton Martis, who joined Albion for just #50,000 from Hibernian in the summer, made his debut.
Bluebirds' boss Dave Jones chose to field his full-strength side with his old guard up front while at the back, another familiar face in former Villa and Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Michael Oakes, was giving the orders.
Cardiff were ahead after just three minutes to stun the lively Hawthorns crowd into silence after Fowler picked up on a ball from Joe Ledley to blast it over the head of the unsuspecting Dean Kiely into the net.
The former Liverpool goal-poacher struck the ball with the sweetest of touches to prove he still has the knack even if he no longer has the pace he used to show in red.
Albion had barely recovered when Hasselbaink made it 2-0 on 22 minutes to underline his stunning career record which averages a goal a game.
Just four minutes later Fowler made it three after Martis made a clumsy challenge on Ledley in the box. Referee Peter Walton had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and up stepped Fowler to coolly slot the ball past Kiely.
The Baggies faithful were by now stunned that their impressive good run of clean sheets had crumpled so easily and further harm was to come in the 29th minute when former West Ham midfielder Trevor Sinclair took it upon himself to also serve a reminder of days gone by to give City a 4-0 lead.
By now, Albion was concerned with damage limitation but they did get themselves on the scoresheet three minutes later when Ishmael Miller squeezed the ball between Oakes and the post after the Cardiff keeper had saved James Morrison's effort.
Mowbray chose to make a double substitution at half-time with Jonathan Greening and Filipe Teixeira entering the fray for Richard Chaplow and Pele.
Within minutes Chris Brunt had almost thrown Albion a lifeline but to his disappointment and that of the Birmingham Road End, his 56th minute effort hit the side netting.
Sinclair then cleared a spectacular effort from Albion defender Martin Albrechtsen as the Baggies tried desperately to get back into the game.
On 71 minutes Mowbray introduced Sherjil MacDonald and he immediately created an opening but instead of squaring to a team-mate in front of goal, he tried to go it alone only to slam into the Bluebirds' brick wall of a defence.
By now the Cardiff fans were chanting "We want five" but it was Albion who were to score after Miller was shoved unceremoniously to the ground by Sinclair on 86 minutes.
The young striker chose to take the penalty himself and fired it past Oakes for his second goal of the game.
But Albion's fight back was too little to late. At least their exit from this competition will allow them more time to concentrate on the more pressing issue as they bid to seek promotion at the second attempt.
Scorers: Fowler (3) 0-1; Hasselbaink (22) 0-2; Fowler (pen, 26) 0-3; Sinclair (29) 0-4; Miller (32) 1-4; Miller (pen, 87) 2-4.
WEST BROMWICH ALBION (4-1-4-1): Kiely; Hodgkiss, Albrechtsen, Martis, Tininho; Brunt; Pele (Greening, 45), Chaplow (Teixeira, 45), Morrison, Miller; Beattie (MacDonald, 71). Subs: Steele, Barnett.
CARDIFF CITY (4-4-2): Oakes; Capaldi, Johnson, Loovens, McNaughton (Gunter, 78); Ledley, Rae, McPhail, Sinclair; Hasslebaink, Fowler (Parry, 71). Subs: Turnbull, Whittingham, Green.
Referee: Peter Walton (Northants).
Booking: Cardiff — Capaldi (foul).
Albion man of the match: Chris Brunt — never gave up and created plenty of chances but was thwarted by the upbeat Bluebirds.