If Swindon Town v Chelsea B, in what one local called the 'Controversial Cup', is really believed to be the answer to all the England team's problems – then football has a lot to learn.
That is no barb aimed at the line-up of Chelsea youngsters at The County Ground: 10 of the starting 11 being English, and nine of those 10 capped at some level for their country.
But the more telling statistic was this: 1,961 through the turnstiles on the night, for what was termed by the newly re-styled English Football League (EFL) a first team fixture.
Again, that was no indictment on the spectacle here: at times this broke into a quite compelling game.
But, more, it showed how yet another of football's governing bodies was desperately out of touch with those who consume the end product.
Chelsea's development side was a composite: made up from those in the first team squad (just defender Fikayo Tomori, numbered 33); those in the U23 side (numbered 42-53); those playing with the U19s (numbered 54-64); and those real youngsters from the U18s (numbered 65+).
Within each age group, players were numbered alphabetically; but an individual's proximity to the first team was largely demonstrated by the digits on the back of their shirt.
Thus there is a particularly long journey ahead for Martell Taylor-Crossdale, born in Edmonton just six days before the changing of the millennium, who set a new record for the highest numbered Chelsea outfield player – wearing 73.
Though Chelsea will not formally register that as, unlike the EFL, this game was not logged by them as worthy of first team status.
And there, in a nutshell, is the lion's share of the problem: for the Premier League sides signed-up to this competition, this is little more than a matter of dabbling.
Chelsea, like the others, want to bring through home growns. Of course they do: aside from their cheapness, they potentially carry a degree of buy-in from fans that makes them an instant and enduring hit, which is worth so much more than the mere shirt sales they deliver.
But the utterly bullying and patronising nature with with which lower tier clubs have been punished and cajoled over this competition, on it's own justifies the boycotts which have brought about those low, low attendances.
There have been many things in recent seasons standing between Chelsea's development squads and first team football; and one imagines a lack of opportunities to play League One sides in front of less than 2,000 people was not one of the major ones.
But this game was not entirely without merit.
I had fully expected to see the youngsters diminish as the game went on: victims of the senior opposition's superior physicality, stamina and gamesmanship.
And that did happen to some extent: though Adi Viveash offset it with clever substitutions.
The late goal from sub Maukhtar Ali, taken from distance and with ferocity, was as vital as the game wore on as the perfectly timed off-the-line clearance by Dujon Sterling (misspelled 'Dijon' on the team sheet: many have insisted for a while he is 'mustard').
Yes, it was men against boys. But did it ever really fell like that: not especially.
Chelsea got the benefit of playing a long training game against a senior side: though I remember watching one of those a couple of years back in pre-season, at Northampton's Sixfields; and aside from the incredible size and power behind Adebayo Akinfenwa, I don't recall learning much from that game either.
The belief of a fair number of Chelsea fans – that this competition will be coasted, and that all youth prospects should be immediately promoted to first team duties – has been dented: and that is no bad thing.
Though questions still remain about what this development side could have achieved with the on-loan army intact.
Chelsea are trying a number of ways to chase that holy grail: the home grown star.
And who is to say what is better for a player's development at a fixed point in time: playing here, on a Tuesday night; or being named in a Borussia Monchengladbach side, rained-off in Manchester?
Chelsea's best performer of the night was on the losing side: Tammy Abraham grabbing a brace, as his on-loan Bristol City side went down 3-2 away at Sheffield Wednesday.
But that was in front of 24,151.
Regardless of the benefits, playing in a match given so little regard by the local football-supporting public cannot be for the good.
The EFL would do well to remember the great Jock Stein quote: “Football is nothing without fans.”
And that will be the ultimate epitaph for this version of the EFL Trophy: borne largely of well-meaning aims; but ultimately flawed, as nobody really wants to watch it.