THERE WAS A moment in the 66th minute between Oldham and Liverpool that you just knew it wasn’t going to be the Premier League side’s day.
Luis Suarez, with his only meaningful second half contribution, cut back and squared for Steven Gerrard as the rain teemed down at Boundary Park.
The Liverpool captain’s shot was bound for the bottom corner until Jose Baxter, the former Everton striker, appeared out of nowhere to block superbly, determination writ massive in his actions.
Oldham, quite simply, wanted this so much more than Liverpool.
There was a nonchalance to the Reds’ play after Suarez equalised that suggested they thought an early scare was just that. Oldham, however, felt otherwise.
They were first to every ball, hassling the likes of Sebastian Coates and Brad Jones into their worst games as Liverpool players, while Joe Allen (until his late, deflected strike) and Fabio Borini were utterly anonymous.
There was an improvement from Liverpool once Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing were brought on, but by picking the likes of Jones, Coates and Jack Robinson, Rodgers was guilty of a lack of respect to the League One side and paid the price.
One team that can’t be accused of belittling the competition is Manchester United, whose reward for swatting aside Fulham is a home tie with Reading in the next round.
Alex Ferguson may have decided to leave the likes of van Persie, Kagawa and Ferdinand on the bench but he still picked a side strong enough that he could afford to give his prolific Dutchman the evening off entirely.
Wayne Rooney had one of his better games of the season, and if Michael Carrick is not among the six nominees for PFA Player Of The Season, a hat will be eaten.
The former West Ham and Tottenham man is this year’s Scott Parker, exuding confidence and authority and almost, just almost, quieting the constant clamour for a Vieira/Keane presence in the centre of the United midfield.
QPR are, quite simply, wretched and there will be few tears shed when they find themselves back in the Championship next year.
Harry Redknapp has a tendency to carefully deflect blame from himself in the bad times, while soaking up the kudos when things go his way, but it was hard not to nod along with his comments after the 4-2 defeat to the MK Dons.
“Look at the team. We have got an England goalkeeper, a right-back from Man Utd, left-back Traore, Anton Ferdinand and Ben Haim.
“Granero from Real Madrid, Ali Faurlin, who you tell me lots of clubs want to buy, Ji-sung Park from Man Utd, Jamie Mackie and I have got Bothroyd and DJ Campbell.
“Surely they are entitled to beat a team from two divisions down, it’s not a bad team.
“I gave them a chance because some of them have been knocking at my door saying they should play and with others I’ve been told they’re good players. Well I gave them a chance and they blew it.
“You know what? It answers questions. Not for me – I knew the answers. But it maybe answers questions for those who didn’t know.
“People think they should be playing and their agents think they should be getting a chance. Well, they had their chance.”
When Adel Taarabt, absent from Saturday’s mauling, is the only player in your squad who looks like he gives a damn, you’re in trouble. QPR have done nothing to dispel the myth that their just a side of chancers waiting for pay-day.
The magic of the Cup indeed.
We pity and loathe club chairman Nick Owen in equal measure for being on a cruise ship, thousands of miles away, when his team became the first non-league side in 24 years to beat top flight opposition.
(Ken Bates also missed a famous win for his Leeds side, but we just loathe him regardless.)
This is a great weekend to be Scott Rendell, to be Matt Smith, to be Marcello Trotta or Sam Byram.
While Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and (just about) Chelsea all remain in the competition, there remains the possibility of ten teams from outside the top flight in the last sixteen.
If the spirit of sides like Oldham, Luton and MK Dons is still in evidence on the weekend of 16/17 February, we’re in for a treat.
Of the beaten Premier League sides, only Spurs can really shrug this one off.
Andre Villas-Boas’ side need to get a striker in before Thursday as they were left woefully short without both Jermain Defoe and Emmanuel Adebayor, but there’s no great shame in defeat to a Leeds United side with a decent pedigree in giantkilling.
Unlike Liverpool, who face trips to Arsenal and Manchester City inside the next week, Spurs face relatively easy trips to Carrow Road and the Hawthorns. Win those and the chase for third/fourth will be progressing nicely. The FA Cup was always going to be a secondary concern.
Elsewhere, things just get worse and worse for Aston Villa. Paul Lambert’s side are at their lowest point in decades, a squad riven by inexperience, and following defeat to Millwall with anything fewer than four points from clashes with Newcastle and Everton should put the former Norwich man out of his misery.