NEWCASTLE United’s fans had dreamt of Wembley on the long journey down to London – but what they saw instead gave them nightmares ahead of the Tyne-Wear derby.
Cup redemption, it seems, is still a long, long way off for Alan Pardew.
This was another troubling, even embarrassing, defeat.
And long before the final whistle put Pardew’s players out of their misery, the club’s 4,200 fans were singing “I want to go home”.
You couldn’t blame them.
Many had been at the Emirates Stadium four days earlier, where Newcastle were beaten 4-1 by Arsenal.
This was worse, much worse.
Now the club’s supporters can only hope their team can somehow pull itself together for the visit of Gus Poyet’s to St James’s Park.
A fourth successive defeat to Sunderland is unthinkable for United – and especially manager Pardew.
Pardew, again under pressure, needs a win – however it comes.
But if his team plays anything like this against Sunderland, they will lose.
Pardew – whose side had won their last two Premier League visits to White Hart Lane – made just four changes from the team he named a few miles away at the Emirates Stadium.
Cheik Tiote, Papiss Demba Cisse, Steven Taylor and Sammy Ameobi stayed behind on Tyneside along with the suspended Daryl Janmaat.
All five could return to the starting XI for Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby at St James’s Park.
United certainly need them back on this evidence.
There were chaotic scenes outside White Hart Lane as the game kicked off.
Many of the visiting fans who had tickets for the upper tier were still stood queuing as Jack Colback launched an early ball forward for Yoan Gouffran.
The chaos on the pitch was to come later, for Pardew’s side started well enough.
Sissoko made a powerful early run forward and slipped in Emmanuel Riviere, starting his first game since September, but goalkeeper Michel Vorm raced off his line to get there first.
The game had the makings of a decent cup tie before it slowly – and painfully – unravelled for Newcastle.
Sissoko was at the heart of United’s best moves, and he drove a thunderous shot into the arms of Vorm in the 15th minute.
Three minutes later, Newcastle were behind.
Christian Eriksen delivered a corner from the right which was spilled by an off-balance Alnwick, and Nabil Bentaleb swept the loose ball home at the far post.
It almost got worse in the 36th minute when Gouffran inexplicably rolled the ball to Tottenham’s Harry Kane.
The striker had a run at United’s goal, but he shot wide of goal as Newcastle’s 4,200 fans, massed behind Alnwick, turned up the volume in a bid to rouse their team.
Referee Andre Marriner waved away a penalty appeal in the 41st minute after Kane went down under a challenge from captain Fabricio Coloccini, who had clipped him.
Gouffran put a chance at the other end over the bar, and Jan Vertonghen had an effort blocked.
Pardew opted to send the same XI out for the second half, and within 33 seconds the team was 2-0 down, with a shot from an unchallenged Nacer Chadli having taken a slight deflection on its way past Alnwick.
Tottenham passed and probed away after the goal, though Remy Cabella did have a shot at Vorm in a rare foray forward.
And Cabella and Riviere both somehow missed a great right-wing delivery from Ayoze Perez.
Had it not been for an on-the-line clearance from Massadio Haidara – he blocked a header from Vertonghen – the game would have been effectively over.
But it was all over in the 63rd minute when Kane got goal side of Williamson – who endured another torrid 90 minutes – in the box and beat Alnwick.
Soldado added extra gloss, slotting home from close range after Eriksen’s initial effort was saved.
Alnwick was given treatment for a shoulder problem in the latter stages of the game.
But Alnwick was able to continue.
And the 21-year-old will have a huge weight on his shoulders when Sunderland visit St James’s Park.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Alnwick 4; Dummett 6, Coloccini 5, Williamson 4, Haidara 5; Colback 5, Sissoko 6 (Anita, 73, 5); PEREZ 7, Cabella 6 (Vuckic, 79), Gouffran 4; Riviere 5 (Armstrong, 59, 6). Subs not used: Woodman, Satka, Streete, Roberts.
TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Vorm, Chiriches, Fazio, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb (Capoue, 79), Stambouli; Chadli (Dembele, 60), Eriksen, Townsend; Kane (Soldado, 68). Subs not used: Lloris, Kaboul, Naughton, Lamela.
Man of the match: Ayoze Perez. Never gave up, and made things happen.
Highlight: The final whistle – it put United’s fans out of their misery.
Lowlight: Newcastle’s defending. Again.
Goals: Bentaleb 18, Chadli 46, Kane 63, Soldado 70
Bookings: Haidara 71
Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands)