Jimmy Bullard believes Fulham's ability to salvage a game in which they were second best is a sign they are a stronger side than last year, writes Yann Tear.
Fulham made only one change from Saturday's excellent showing against Arsenal for Wednesday's Carling Cup tie against Leicester City - Fredrik Stoor making his debut at right back in place of John Pantsil - but there was really no comparison in form.
The Whites' were mostly awful and their League One opponents showed greater eagerness to get forward in numbers. And with pace to burn down the flanks, the Foxes deservedly stole a march with two goals early in the second half from Paul Dickov and Andy King to overturn an unlucky half-time deficit.
But Fulham somehow found another gear in the closing stages to go into the hat for tomorrow's (Saturday) third round draw.
Bullard, who had hit one wayward pass after another, played a neat one-two with Simon Davies before finding the bottom corner from distance with a stunning shot. And right at the death, his midfield partner Danny Murphy - also a mere shadow of the brilliant performer he had been against the Gunners - scored from outside the box with the aid of a telling deflection.
When you factor in a Zoltan Gera shot that only beat keeper David Martin with the aid of another wicked change of direction off defender Michael Morrison's boot, City can claim a gross miscarriage of justice.
But Bullard had a different interpretation: "We maybe wouldn't have gone through and won this game last year, but we have a stronger squad and we're stronger mentally," he said.
"They came out in the second half and gave us a massive kick up the backside with two goals in two minutes and this game isn't about leading all the time. Sometimes you have to come from behind and I thought the last five or 10 minutes, we showed a bit of character.
"Winning when you've been trailing is always good for team morale and we wanted to win this game. It was near enough the team we put out against Arsenal.
"I may watch the video again and be hard on myself as I usually am. I gave a few bad balls away, which I didn't like, but I scored in the end so that got me a little bit out of jail and then Danny got me even more out of jail."
Brede Hangeland too was grateful that his personal high at the weekend - scoring the winner against Arsenal with his first goal for the club - was not followed by an instant low of a cup defeat to lower league opposition. Especially as he was at fault for City's second, allowing Paul Dickov to steal the ball away from him inside the area to set up King's smart finish.
"The first five minutes of the second half - and even the first 25 of the half - was a disaster," he conceded.
"These are the games where we feel lucky to come back and still win it even though we didn't do well.
"It was an entirely different game on Saturday and we didn't cope as well. I'm just really happy that we got two great goals from our midfielders at the end and managed to get the win.
"Someone's got to win the competition and we definitely hope we can go on a good run and as we get closer to the final, it gets more interesting."
FULHAM (1) 3 LEICESTER C (0) 2 Line-up: Schwarzer; Stoor, Hughes, Hangeland, Kallio; Davies, Bullard, Murphy, Gera; Seol (Nevland 59), Zamora. Subs not used: Zuberbühler, Pantsil, Andranik, Dempsey, Andreasen, Baird. Attendance: 7,584. GOALS: Gera (31), Dickov (46), King (48), Bullard (83), Murphy (90).
MoM: Lloyd Dyer (Leicester)