Another year added to the trophy doubt and the final close nature of the result should not disguise our problems.
An astonishing comeback from Motherwell was not to secure a Scottish Cup quarter-final place with penalties sending us out against St Mirren in the fifth round replay on Tuesday.
Trailing 4-1 at half-time – more on that later – Tony Watt's deflected goal sparked us into life, Rolando Aarons gave us hope with a cross which snuck in and Alan Campbell, with another deflection, had us level with 16 minutes remaining.
Having yanked centre-backs Peter Hartley and Bevis Mugabe by half-time, thrown on Jermaine Hylton for Liam Grimshaw at wing-back, and wasted our bonus substitute on Christy Manzinga, we ended with 10 men when Jake Carroll left injured deep into extra-time.
Remarkably we ended with a back three of Richard Tait, Mark O'Hara and Liam Donnelly, who cleared a chip off the line in the 120th minute.
But Jermaine Hylton struck the bar after Watt blazed over and Donnelly had his shot saved meaning there was no happy ending to the dramatic tale.
All told, however, we can have no complaints about that after a shambolic first half performance and masses of luck bringing us back into the tie.
Earlier Jon Obika netted twice, forced Hartley into an own goal and Sam Foley added a fourth before the break with only Liam Polworth's equaliser giving us only brief respite in the first half.
Declan Gallagher having flu proved costly as Mugabi, who didn't last 45 minutes before being put out of his misery, was woeful alongside Hartley – who was scarcely much better and didn't reappear for the second half.
Obika slotted home Ilkay Durmas' fine cross for the opener and was unmarked to guide in a free kick for his second.
Polworth had drawn us level briefly in between but Obika's surging run created a chance for Foley which was saved only to deflect off Hartley and into the net.
Mark Gillespie saved from Jamie McGrath to briefly spare our blushes but Foley's fine finish ensured a half-time roasting from the stands.
The second half understandably couldn't be worse but even when Watt netted his first in claret and amber St Mirren remained in control. That changed when Aarons somehow found the net and 60 seconds later Campbell looped the ball into the net to send the game into an additional period.
There were chances either way to win it, the best falling to the Buddies at the death but their victory was only delayed.
St Mirren go on to face either Kilmarnock or Aberdeen in the quarter-finals and we can only wish them luck. And hope we fair better against them in the rearranged league match next Tuesday after we first face a tricky trip to Hamilton on Saturday.
Motherwell's board are unlikely to take rash action towards manager Stephen Robinson and sitting fourth that is perfectly correct. But long-term plans must be made and eyes will wander to Edinburgh where Hearts are bottom of the table – arguably because they failed to address the glaring problems apparent in the first half of 2019 by summer.
Motherwell 4 St Mirren 4 (St Mirren win 3-2 on penalties)
Team: Gillespie, Grimshaw, (Hylton 62), Mugabi (O'Hara 45), Hartley (Tait 45), Carroll, Donnelly, Campbell, Polworth, Aarons, Watt, MacIver (Manzinga 102)
Tuesday 18 February 2020