Gary McSheffrey admits Doncaster Rovers played into Sunderland hands as he waits to hear if he will be the next manager
As performances go, it was hardly the best marker for the caretaker to leave ahead of Tuesday's meeting when he will be told if he is to be the club's next full-time manager.
The hosts were without captain Tom Anderson, who continues to be troubled by plantar fasciitis, and on-loan Manchester United midfielder Ethan Galbraith who has yet to fully recover from Covid-19.
Without their leader and arguably their most talented player, the gulf in class between the two League One sides was yawning.
"We got punished by quality, really," the former winger reflected. "Saying that, the three goals from our point of view were poor, we lacked a bit of discipline with our shape. We tried to press high but our distances weren't right so there needs to be a bit more discipline sitting in our shape a bit for longer.
"As soon as we tried to press but it was too late they've got the players that can just play through you and they were clever. They all had good touch, minimal touches, and moved the ball fast until an individual could get a dribble or move up the pitch.
"That was the big difference at times, we took too many touches to get hold of the ball individually and we didn't move it quickly enough, there weren't enough passing options fo the man on the ball. We found it difficult.
"We want to be disciplined in our possession and we wanted to be aggressive and turning them, letting them see the numbers on our back, playing in behind their defence. (in the) first half we didn't really do that much.
"We conceded the goal which is a bit sloppy, the penalty, and then you're just riding the storm a little bit because they were good.
"To concede the second as we did in the 41st minute, switching off from a set play... I constantly tell the boys set plays, throw-ins, restarts are not a rest, not a breather. You have to get yourself into position as quickly as you can, and face the ball so you're ready to go again, ready to defend anything.
"Too many saw it as a rest, we were walking and we were a bit asleep and the gaps were too big. (Alex) Pritchard saw that, he can smell when he can be a threat and he exploits those spaces, he has the awareness as well to chop it for the man inside.
"It was good play from their point of view but really sloppy from ours."
Doncaster brought experience off the bench in the form of Omar Bogle and Dan Gardner but the game was already lost by then, the latter coming on at the interval with his side 2-0 down, the immediately shortly after former Huddersfield Town playmaker Pritchard backheeled the third goal in off the unfortunate Ben Blythe.
Liam Ravenhill, who conceded the penalty Ross Stewart opened the scoring from, was making his full league debut, Blythe only his second start in the competition, Lirak Hasani his third. Joe Dodoo went off injured to compound matters.
"(Substitute Aidan) Barlow's come back from 10 days' isolation," explained McSheffrey. "Bogle trained yesterday after a calf injury which is why he missed the Shrewsbury game, Dan
Gardner has been out for a long time with a calf injury as well. If you start them you can lose them for longer periods.
"We went with what we went with because we felt they were the fittest group in terms of how they've lived their lives over the last 10 days. A few had Covid and played 90 minutes, a few were isolating and played 90 minutes so fair play to them for digging deep.
"We chose the team we felt were best capable.
"Galbraith had Covid. He trained yesterday with us but his chest felt real tight, really congested so we're going to follow the return to play protocol with him and hopefully he's going to be involved at Morecambe
"Tom's got an injury he had at the start of the season when he had a plantar fasciitis injury (an inflammation of the foot) and it's reoccurred. It's not as painful as last time but hopefully we can get to the bottom of it."
Doncaster are still six points from safety with 22 games played.