Paul Lambert pointed to a bizarre penalty controversy as the turning point as Aston Villa crashed out of the Capital One Cup with a fourth successive home defeat against Premier League opposition.
Last season's beaten semi-finalists were seeking a quick response at the start of the second half when Nicklas Helenius had his shorts pulled down virtually to his knees by falling Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen as they chased Ron Vlaar's long pass.
The Dane stayed on his feet but, with referee Jon Moss appearing to decide that advantage could be played, blazed wildly off target.
Villa boss Lambert protested furiously to the fourth official as his giant striker - one of two half-time substitutes - made himself decent again. There was still disbelief at the decision at the end of the match.
"We were still in the game at 1-0 and I thought the big moment was the penalty," he said. "I can't believe it was not given.
"It's the first time I've seen something like that happen. I don't think anybody could believe it."
Even Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas acknowledged that his side had 'got away' with that one and Lambert detected several positives despite the ultimately heavy 4-0 defeat.
He was pleased with Marc Albrighton's first appearance in the senior side since January and also pointed to Joe Bennett and Nathan Baker as impressive performers.
Further consolation came with the news that Christian Benteke - a reported Tottenham target in the summer - might be back late next month.
However, the problem for Villa, who have to face Tottenham at home in the League in less than a month, is that their chance for an immediate lifting of spirits comes against in-form Manchester City at Villa Park on Saturday.
Lambert expects several of the players left out against Spurs, including Gabby Agbonlahor, to have recovered in time for the weekend, although he insisted they all had genuine injuries.