Rafa Benitez defended his decision to make 10 changes after Newcastle United crashed out of the Carabao Cup last night.
Championship visitors Nottingham Forest won through 3-2 after extra time on a dramatic evening at St James’s Park.
Defeat adds to the early-season concerns on Tyneside, following successive Premier League defeats to start the campaign.
The pressure will be on the Magpies to get off the mark when West Ham, also pointless so far, visit St James’s on Saturday.
Only defender Chancel Mbemba, of last night’s starting XI, had played in Sunday’s defeat to Huddersfield, while a number of players made available for transfer were handed starts. Achraf Lazaar, told to train at the Academy last month, also came off the bench.
Asked about his selection, manager Benitez said: “I made the changes because we played (three) days ago.
“The players have to be ready to play in the cup against a Championship team. If you cannot, then it means that something is wrong.
“I thought we could do and, watching the number of chances we had, I think we deserved to go through.
“If you are going to go through in the cups, you have to use your squad.
“If you cannot do that, it means you have to improve. It has proved that we have to improve in some areas.”
Benitez, without three injured defenders, felt that his team created enough chances to win the game.
Aleksandar Mitrovic opened the scoring in the third minute, producing an emphatic swing of his right boot to fire in a pass from livewire Rolando Aarons.
But Forest’s Jason Cummings – linked with Sunderland in the summer – took advantage of some uncertain defending to net either side of the half-hour mark.
The ex-Hibs man was left completely unmarked when he headed home Zach Clough’s 29th-minute cross.
He then left central defenders Mbemba and Grant Hanley in his wake to latch onto Danny Fox’s long ball and lobbed advancing keeper Karl Darlow.
Aarons capped a fine first-half display with a superb goal, a stunning right-footed drive, to bring Newcastle back to 2-2 before the break.
Newcastle pressured Forest late in the game, but Mark Warburton’s side held firm to take the game into extra-time and then secured victory, courtesy of Tyler Walker in the 98th minute, glancing home fellow sub Jack Hobbs’ header.
“There were positives,” said Benitez. “Rolando’s performance, some play from (Jacob) Murphy, the work-rate of (Henri) Saivet and Mitrovic.
“A lot of players were trying, and you have to take that as a positive. But if you are better in the box, that can make the difference.”
Delighted Forest manager Warburton was delighted with the efforts of his team, which itself featured six changes to the side which beat Middlesbrough at the weekend.
He said: “For us, it was about coming to an iconic football stadium on a superb playing surface and enjoying it.
“If you can’t come to a place like St James’ Park and enjoy a game of football, then something is wrong. What we wanted to do was come here and deliver a good performance.
“We know we’re a good team, we know we are getting better, we are gelling as a team.
“We were very respectful – obviously Rafa is a world-class manager with a Premier League squad.
“We wanted to come here, deliver a performance and leave the field with no regrets and that’s what I think we did tonight.”
Newcastle: Darlow, Sterry (Lazaar 58), Hanley, Mbemba, Gamez, Murphy, Saivet, Barlaser (Hayden 70), Aarons (Ritchie 77), Diame, Mitrovic (Joselu 106). Subs not used: Lascelles, Manquillo, Woodman. Booked: Hanley. Goals: Mitrovic 3, Aarons 45.
Nottm Forest: Smith, Lichaj, Mancienne, Worrall, Fox, Osborn, Clough, Bouchalakis (McKay 46), Brereton (Walker 77), Cummings (Murphy 97), Dowell (Hobbs 62). Subs not used: Traore, Evtimov, Darikwa. Booked: Worrall, Mancienne. Goals: Cummings 29, 31, Walker 97.
Ref: Darren England (South Yorkshire).