Sheffield United lost their long unbeaten home record as Islam Slimani, Demarai Gray and Ahmed Musa reminded Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare of their capabilities a 4-1 Carabao Cup victory at Bramall Lane.
None of the trio has started for the 2016 Premier League champions this season, but Gray's trickery, incision and cool second-half finish demonstrated why Bournemouth have been linked with him
Slimani - last year a £28million capture from Sporting Lisbon - was maybe fortunate to be in a position to grab a double after somehow managing to avoid dismissal on the stroke of half-time.
He took his goals well once the Sky Bet Championship Blades began to lose heart - they had threatened early on at Bramall Lane through David Brooks.
Chris Wilder's second-string side would find some late joy thanks to Caolan Lavery, yet Musa's stoppage-time finish rubber-stamped the outcome.
Despite the defeat, Wilder heaped praise on the 20-year-old academy product Lavery, saying: "I think you know there was an individual who was a bright spot.
"He's in good nick. He was just floating about (in the academy) and we had a look at him.
"He's been knocking on the door and I've just got to make sure I manage the boy correctly."
Much-changed Leicester made better inroads in the first exchanges, with Wilfred Ndidi twice storming down the flanks to try his luck on either side of Jake Eastwood's goal.
Gray came closer when nipping in from the left to force a low block from the Blades goalkeeper, but it was soon the hosts' turn to crank up the pressure.
While summer arrival Ched Evans, whose last United goal arrived almost 2,000 days ago, should have allowed Lavery's pinpoint cross to drop to his feet instead of nervously heading it, Brooks' left-footed drive was dangerously close to crossing the line.
United grew in confidence as half-time approached, restricting Leicester to half-chances. They were perhaps hard done by when Slimani avoided a red card for a full-blooded challenge.
Further disappointment followed the restart when, seven minutes into the second half, England Under-21 winger Gray wriggled free down the left before reeling Eastwood in for a low finish.
Brooks returned to worry Ben Hamer with a curler as an agonised Blades team sought an equaliser.
Instead it was time for Slimani to ingratiate himself further with the baying home support by racing on to Andy
King's through-ball, drifting beyond Eastwood and slotting home inside the near post.
United heads dropped and Slimani doubled his tally in the 67th minute. It was all too straightforward when Gray directed a loose ball to the Algerian's feet for an unopposed tap-in.
Later still there were mixed cheers and jeers when Slimani sealed an apparent hat-trick, but the assistant's flag spared the Blades any further anguish.
Indeed there was some mild home comfort when Canada-born forward Lavery swung and connected for a consolation.
Nigeria's Musa returned the favour from six yards, however, ending any hopes of an unlikely comeback.
On United's capitulation after a positive first half, Wilder added: "A bit naive. A mad 15 minutes.
"We were well in the game but, from being in a great position, within five seconds Gray's scored and within minutes the game's done and dusted.
"We've been heavily punished and we don't deserve to go through to the next round."