Paul Heckingbottom says Sheffield United sloppiness gave Blades difficult afternoon he was expecting as they sweat on Iliman Ndiaye injury news
What cost the win comes at remains to be seen, with the manager unaware of the extent of the injury which took goalscorer Iliman Ndiaye off in the 71st minute.
The hosts were in complete control of the game at 2-0 but on the stroke of half-time a Nick Powell cross went all the way inside Wes Foderingham's far post without anybody getting a touch.
The Blades never posed the same threat again although they did keep Stoke at arm's length until Jayden Bogle scored his second goal, in the 90th minute, to confirm the 3-1 win.
"Today's our fault," said Heckingbottom. "Two-nil up at Wigan, ref gives them a goal, 2-0 up at Blackpool, ref gives them a goal, we can't do. anything about that. Today we could.
"Even though I've been told it should be offside, I'm frustrated because we recover great off one of their counter-attacks but they have a throw-in and we showed the boys at half-time how slow we are to set up. That's our one blemish today, the one black mark against us.
"We had control of the game in terms of the scorline, 2-0 up and I thought we had control with the ball to a certain extent.
"After the first two minutes you could see what Stoke were going to try and do, split the forwards and particularly on Anel (Ahmedhodzic)'s side stop us getting out. We'd prepared for that.
"Our first goal was delightful, really good.
"We had control then but when it's 2-1 they're changing, they're forcing and we didn't have control with the ball then but we had control without it.
"Jacob Brown had a header (saved by Foderingham) and that was it.
"We try to prepare for every eventuality with the ball or without the ball, set plays, all moments of the game because you never know in this league how it's going to be pan out, whether it's off a decision, a mistake and the flow and the dynamic changes."
But Heckingbottom insisted he never thought it would be a stroll in the park against Alex Neil's team.
"Did expect any different? No," he said. "Was I delighted when we were 2-0 up and looking like we were in control? Yeah, because everything we'd spoken about had worked but those moments are rarities.
"We prepare for how tough the game's going to be and I'm expecting 19 more tough ones just like that."
Neil thought the third goal gave the scoreline a harsh complexion.
"I thought first half we were passive, we didn't really do enough," he said.
"It's hard to be positive about anything in the first half. Second half we were better and Sheffield United panicked a little, we were better in our press and that was down to us.
"I thought we were the team more likely to score in the second half but the third goal summed our fortune up lately. It wasn't creative, it was a tackle (by Phil Jagielka) and rebounded off their lad (Tommy Doyle) and then he squared for a tap-in."
Ndiaye scored his first game since November, but limped off after a heavy challenge. The Blades were already without wing-backs Enda Stevens and George Baldock through injury.
"For me he was the (Championship) player of the month in December but we put it to him (Middlesbrough's) Chuba Akpom scored four goals and he didn't," said Heckingbottom. "Anyone who watched all the games would struggle to find a better player than Iliman.
"He's answered us again, he was good."
On the extent and nature of the injury, he told the post-match press conference: "I've not seen him.
"He wanted to carry on but we were making a sub anyway so we just said for him to come off.
"I thought it was cramp at first but it's not. We'll see.
"He's got a bag of ice on his leg, that's all I've seen."