Steve Bruce shouldered the responsibility for Hull's toothless display at the Riverside Stadium as his new-look forward line failed to prevent Middlesbrough from claiming a comfortable 2-0 victory.
Going into the match, the Tigers were holding their hosts at arm's length in the npower Championship play-off places, and Bruce selected Nick Proschwitz - whose brace downed Ipswich on Saturday - alongside Aaron Mclean in a bid to engineer City's first win on Teesside in 26 years.
But City ultimately had no response to Boro's double salvo either side of the hour mark, Faris Haroun and Ishmael Miller boosting Tony Mowbray's men up to third in the league table as the visitors slipped to eighth.
Bruce said: "I've no complaints and the better team won on the night. It was arguably the worst we've played since I came to the club and it was a frustrating night because we got nowhere near it, especially after what we did on Saturday.
"I have to look at myself, did I not do enough? I thought Nick and Aaron had come off the bench and done very well in recent games, full of life and enthusiasm. But it's not just those two, we didn't do enough in general."
On an evening where the Championship's top six swapped places dozens of times, Boro's victory and clean sheet proved sufficient to book third spot, with only Cardiff and Leicester currently out of reach in the automatic promotion places.
But Boro boss Mowbray is all too aware that lofty positions count for nothing in the first half of a long campaign.
"It's really about accumulating points at this stage of the season, where we are in the league doesn't really matter," Mowbray said. "I think players can look at the league table at times and it gives them a bit of a confidence boost but up until about Christmas you're just looking to be in a position to compete.
"When the final placings are given out you need 80 or 90 points to be where you need to be and you have to go through the 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s to get there.
"So we're just trying to edge our points total up by winning football matches and we got another three so we're delighted with that."