MK Dons huffed and puffed but were efficiently put out of the FA Cup by Championship leaders Brighton, going down 2-0 at the Amex Stadium.
The standout Beram Kayal fired the home side into the lead after just nine minutes after being teed up by fellow Israeli Tomer Hemed, before returning the favour midway through the second half to extend the Seagull's undefeated streak to 17, while never really getting out of second gear.
To describe Robbie Neilson's squad for the Cup clash as threadbare would be generous, with no fewer than five development squad regulars named on the bench. Paul Downing and Jack Hendry missed out through injury, though there was good news as George Baldock returned after missing the last three with a hamstring strain. Brother Sam though wasn't named in the Brighton squad.
However, the more senior of the Baldock brothers would be celebrating from the stands after just nine minutes as the home side took an early lead. After some patient build-up play from Richie Towell on the right flank, he cut inside to offload to Hemed, but his deft touch allowed Kayal to fire in low from 20 yards, striking the base of the post on it's way past David Martin's stricken dive.
Dons though were playing some nice football, despite trailing. Chuks Aneke continued on his road to full fitness with some good early play, bursting forwards to fire just over, before nodding down well for Ben Reeves, who should have done better from just inside the area.
But with the lead, Brighton could afford to let Dons come on to them with fairly little danger. In the midfield, the home side were able to pass neatly and bring their full backs into the action with regularity, but, like at the other end, didn't cause much of a threat to Martin's goal. But they really never got out of second gear.
Dons looked a lot more lively after Neilson's half time team talk, and did most of the pressing after the restart. Aneke would continue to be Dons' biggest threat with two decent efforts keeper Niki Maenpaa needed to be alert to, while Reeves tried to catch the keeper out with a clever free kick on goal when it was set up to cross.
Brighton though looked like they could find another gear at any stage and should have been two ahead midway through the second half. Goal-scorer Kayal broke as he closed down a clearance, and with two in support, drew out Martin before playing in Hemed to return the favour for his earlier strike, only to see the striker send the ball high over the bar.
Hemed made amends two minutes later though, as Kayal once again put it on a plate for him, unmarked at the far post to head Brighton 2-0 ahead, comfortably seeing out the match from there,
Referee: Jame Linington
Brighton: Maenpaa; Hunt, Goldson, Huenemeier, Adekugbe; Murphy, Sidwell, Kayal (Ince 77), March; Towell; Hemed
Subs not used: Ankergren, Stephens, Skalak, Murray, Norwood, Duffy
MK Dons: Martin, Lewington, Walsh, Williams, Baldock, Potter, Upson, Reeves, Agard (Powell 77), Aneke (Brittain 82), Maynard
Subs not used: Nicholls, Furlong, Thomas-Asante, Rasulo, Tshimanga
Booked: Williams, Maynard