Everton's League Cup dreams died at the same stage as last season with a quarter-final defeat, this time to Manchester United who ultimately had the wherewithal in the final third that the Toffees lacked.
The final score may have been representative of the pattern of the first 20 minutes in which Everton were all at sea and United were slicing through them at will but it wasn't until the 88th minute that they finally breached Robin Olsen's goal from a player who, had VAR been in operation, probably wouldn't have still been on the pitch.
That was because Carlo Ancelotti's side managed to find their feet midway through the first half and looked at times as though they might be able to drag themselves over the line if they could grab a goal but that seemed less likely after a dazed Richarlison departed the fray following a collision with Eric Bailly in the 56th minute.
A late diving header by Gylfi Sigurdsson was as close as the Blues came to carving out a chance capable of winning the tie and, instead, it was Edinson Cavani who produced a moment of lethal finishing to win it before Anthony Martial rubbed salt into the wounds with a second as Everton were caught on the counter pushing for a stoppage-time equaliser.
With Seamus Coleman fit enough to start, the Irishman came into the side at the expense of Mason Holgate while Robin Olsen rotated back in for Jordan Pickford and André Gomes replaced Tom Davies in midfield.
That final decision from Ancelotti would prove to be a mis-step as the game passed the Portuguese by for almost an hour until he was replaced by Davies. Everton's midfield chased shadows in the opening quarter of the contest and United had forced five corners and gone close when Donny van der Beek's shot was deflected over by Coleman inside the first 10 minutes.
Olsen's error almost gifted the opener to Cavani in the 12th minute but the Swede made amends a couple of minutes later by saving at the Uruguayan's feet and then foiling him twice with a double save in the 16th minute.
Everton didn't mount an attack worthy of the name until the 21st minute when Sigurdsson jinked his way past two players but saw his shot blocked by Harry Maguire. Back at the other end, Bruno Fernandes picked Mason Greenwood out with a cross but the striker's header brushed the far post.
Paul Pogba headed a corner straight at Olsen shortly before the half-hour mark and Dominic Calvert-Lewin did the same at the Park End giving Dean Henderson a routine save to make before Sigurdsson forced a better stop from the visiting keeper. Michael Keane's marauding run from deep forced a foul by Bailly just outside the box and Henderson had to push Sigurdsson's direct free-kick behind with both gloves.
Back at the Gwladys Street End Olsen's handling was examined by a dipping Fernandes free-kick as Everton made it to the halfway stage with the score somehow goalless.
Though United began the second period with more probing attacks and another close call when Cavani's shot deflected into the side-netting, albeit amid more than a suspicion of handball, the game eventually lapsed into something more akin to a war of attrition and it wasn't clear how or from whom a winner might come.
United were handed an advantage when Richarlison was barged cynically by Fernandes and pole-axed by Bailly and, mouth bloodied and glassy-eyed, it was determined he couldn't continue. The Brazilian was replaced by his compatriot Bernard and Davies replaced Gomes shortly afterwards and were it not for some sloppy distribution at crucial moments in the final third, the Blues might have sneaked a goal.
As it was, it was a slick passing move straight through their midfield that would prove to be Everton's undoing as Maguire found Martial with a ball from defence, the Frenchman then laid it on to Cavani who engineered space from 20 yards before rapping an unstoppable shot into the far corner. That the Uruguayan had escaped so much as a booking for choking Yerry Mina and throwing him to the ground earlier in the half made it all the more galling.
Ancelotti threw Cenk Tosun on in a desperate attempt to salvage something during five minutes added for stoppages but despite having a couple of set-piece opportunities in dangerous areas, they couldn't fashion an opening and after Fernandes had clipped the bar with one shot, the Blues were picked off on the counter again in the final few seconds where Martial easily beat Olsen to seal Everton's fate.
It's a big night at Goodison Park as Everton take on Manchester United in the last quarter-final of the Carabao Cup.
James Rodriguez will miss a fourth successive match after Carlo Ancelotti confirmed that the Colombian won't be available tonight, with injuries to Digne, Allan, Gomes and Gbamin continuing to force Ancelotti's hand when it comes to team selection.
The approach too may need to be different considering this is a crunch knock-out game, with Calvert-Lewin in particular seeing fewer of the dangerous crosses he needs to maintain his scoring rate.
The illustrious visitors got things going but seemed happy to play it slow, Cavani getting called offside. Everton failed to play it out and immediately put themselves under unwanted pressure, giving up an early corner that glanced off Mina with Olsen fapping in a manner that would have done Pickford proud, catching Mina in the follow-through.
The second corner saw Gomes gift the ball and how Man Utd did not score was a minor miracle. They should have scored from the third corner but Everton caught Cavani offside in a fraught start for the Blues, Keane losing the ball and Cavani trying to beat Olsen from almost the halfway line.
A fourth corner led to a fifth as the Blues rocked back on their heels, but kept defending solidly. After 10 minutes Everton had some possession that saw them play back to Olsen, who so nearly did anther Pickford, almost losing the ball in another stupid demonstration of playing it out from the back.
Another piece of nonsense, this from Godfrey on the wing, created a chance that Olsen miraculously saved with a brilliant tackle on Cavani. Everton finally played it up to Calvert-Lewin who could only head it on aimlessly and it ended up back in the Everton area, Cavani with three bites of the cherry at the far post but he could not beat Olsen and Keane.
Sigurdsson did well to dribble in and get a sight the Man Utd goal but Maguire blocked his shot. The red dominance of the play continued, a header from Greenwood flying inches wide. Everton tok 3 attempts before Gomes launched a free-kick into low earth orbit, beyond everyone. Another Red corner, another goal chance, but Pogba headed it straight to Olsen.
A rare Everton attack went wrong when Iwobi and Gomes lost the ball. Everton got it back to play short back and sides, Iwobi giving it away. When they did recover, they were reluctant to play the final ball, Sigurdsson eventually winning Everton's first corner in the 35th minute. Calvert-Lewin could only head it straight to Henderson.
Godfrey seemed to be pushed in the Utd area but no dice. Keane drew a foul for a nice set-piece that Sigurdsson at least tested Henderson, but it needed to be more into the top corner. The resulting corner evaded an immense salmonesque leap from Calvert-Lewin but Godfrey behind him could not react fast enough to fashion a shot. Sigurdsson then got a lazy shot off at Henderson.
Fernandes tested Olsen with a free-kick before the break as Calvert-Lewin let Maguire know he was about. It had been either a brilliant half of Ancelotti Masterclass defending... or one of the most dire halves the Blues had played all season — remarkably without conceding. Only 12 touches for Calvert-Lewin!!!
Sigudsson got things going as the ref took the knee — oh no, check that — he was just tying his laces! Iwobi did brilliantly to steal the ball off a Utd player, and Everton attacked but Richarlison wanted to shoot and couldn't. At the other end, Cavani threatened but Mina helped break from the Utd corner and Iwobi hopelessly overhit his cross.
Cavani pushed Mina over by the throat, surely a red card offence? Then Bailly and Richarlison collided heavily in a sandwich after Fernandes had pushed the Everton player and made the impact to his head far worse. The physio stopped him from resuming, Bernard on in his place. Then Davies replacing Gomes after Maguire had held Mina on an Everton free-kick when Pogba slid in on Godfrey, but not deemed enough for a penalty.
Man Utd countered on an Everton advance, Fernandes in space lashing his shot over. After a scrappy spell, Man Utd exerted some pressure but Everton broke and saw one of Calvert-Lewin's power touches fire the ball too hard beyond Iwobi on the wing. Then Coleman went on a great run and tried a forward ball to Calvert-Lewin, who was well offside, and he miscontrolled anyway.
Fernandes demonstrated he could do anything just as badly as anyone else, spooning a dreadful cross to the opposite corner flag as the game simply went from bad to worse as a spectacle. Bernard was poor, Man Utd sloppy, the whole thing painfully heading to penalties.
Bernard gave the Red Devils a chance with a poor tackle on Pogba in the danger zone but Telles kindly fired over before he was substituted. A series of sloppy turnovers preceded a Martial chance but he managed to kick his standing foot and missed the ball. Iwobi set up Sigurdsson for a dramatic diving header that, in the full spirit of this game, did not go anywhere near the goal.
With Everton now desperate to hang on to penalties, Man Utd went up the other end and Cavini drilled a shot past Olsen to surely win the game.
At the other end, Bernard was fouled by Tuanzebe but Sigurdsson's set-piece was not good enough. Everton plugged away through 5 mins of added time, with Fernandes clipping the angle. Martial finally finished them off after messing up a previous counter-attack. What a thoroughly dreadful game. Not a single Everton shot on target in the second half.
Everton: Olsen, Coleman, Mina, Keane, Godfrey, Doucouré (89' Tosun), Gomes (58' Davies), Sigurdsson, Iwobi, Richarlison (56' Bernard), Calvert-Lewin.
Subs not Used: Pickford, Kenny, Holgate, Gordon.
Manchester United: Henderson; Tuanzebe, Bailly, Maguire, Telles (84' Shaw); Matic, Pogba [Y:57'], Van de Beek (67' Rashford), Fernandes; Greenwood (67' Martial), Cavani.
Subs not Used: Grant, Fosu-Mensah, Fred, Lingard.