The U's&nbsp;lost to&nbsp;Sunderland in the Carling Cup Second Round on Tuesday night, thanks to two goals from Darren Bent.
Both came in the first half, one a header and the second a tap in on the&nbsp;rebound&nbsp;from a free kick.
The U's weren't overawed though and created more clear cut chances and had more corners than their Premier League opponents.
Unfortunately, these stats meant nothing as Sunderland's England international forward snapped up his goals to give his side their first win of the campaign.
It was also the U's first defeat of the season but there were plenty of encouraging signs in the&nbsp;brave performance.
There were also&nbsp;occasions when the U's put together expansive passing passages that any top flight team would have been proud of.&nbsp;
Boss John Ward&nbsp;made four changes to his starting eleven, two enforced, with John White and Pat Baldwin coming into the back four.
Paul Reid hadn't recovered in time after tweaking his groin on Saturday and Marc Tierney had to miss the Stadium of Light encounter after falling ill on Tuesday morning.
There was one change in midfield and one up front, with Lloyd James and Kayode Odejayi replacing Andy Bond and David Mooney respectively.
In the days leading up to the game, Sunderland boss Steve Bruce insisted that he would be taking the Carling Cup seriously and despite making six changes to his starting eleven, picked a host of household names to take on the U's.
Anton Ferdinand, Bolo Zenden, Lee Catermole and Michael Turner were amongst that half dozen players coming in, as the home side looked for their first win of the season.
But the big names in the home side didn't intimidate the U's in the early stages and Ian Henderson registered the first effort, shooting straight at Mignolet in the very first minute.
While the U's were holding their own, the hosts started to feel their way into the game, forcing a trio of corners, the third of which was headed onto the roof of the net by Darren Bent in the fourteenth minute.
Five minutes later, Bent had another header, this time giving Sunderland the lead as he headed into an empty net.
A long ball was hit forward by Bardsley and Mark Cousins jumped for it just inside his penalty area. Unfortunately, Bent had a good run on the U's keeper and jumped higher to flick his header in for the opener.
The U's almost replied within a minute, with Kayode Odejayi flicking his header just wide when a bit more contact might have served him better from White's cross.
Odejayi then struck a shot goalwards and with Mignolet scrambling across his line, the ball zipped just past the upright.
On twenty four minutes, Cousins made a good save, diving low to his right to take a Bardsley long range effort.
Lloyd James, who had worked tirelessly in the U's midfield, had a chance to test the Black Cats' keeper but his shot from distance lacked accuracy and went wide.
Perkins was next to try his luck, volleying straight at the keeper after a weak defensive header.
The U's, as immediately before the first goal, were having the best of things and on thirty six minutes, Sunderland hit them with a second goal, one that Cousins will want to forget.
Richardson won a free kick wide and Zenden whipped the ball in and Cousins advanced to take it just above his head. Unfortunately, it slipped through his hands and fell to Bent, who tapped in for what will probably be his easiest goal of the season.
Two minutes later, Henderson went into the book for a flailing arm at former U's loanee Titus Bramble but the U's weren't to be overawed.
They finished the half in the ascendancy and won three late corners, which Sunderland failed to clear fully but the U's couldn't create an opening before the referee blew the whistle after one minute of injury time.
There was also a fantastic save from Mignolet that prevented Wordsworth from reducing the deficit with a header that was tipped away as it headed for the top corner.
And it was Wordsworth with the first effort of the second period, two minutes after the break. His header this time found the arms of the home keeper but the U's were already showing intent.
Kem Izzet had started the second half hoping to run off a knock but had to concede defeat and was replaced on forty nine minutes by Lee Beevers.
Perkins then had a left foot curler brilliantly saved before Henderson's diving header flew wide of the post on fifty four minutes.
There was a half chance each end, with Wordsworth having another shot saved and then Baldwin had to make a timely block from a low cross into the danger area.
Ward made his second substitution on sixty five minutes, with Ashley Vincent taking over from Perkins.
A couple of minutes later, Cousins saved comfortably from home sub Andy Reid.
In a rare Sunderland attack, substitute Waghorn hit the crossbar but Cousins looked to have had it covered.
He then prevented Bent scoring a third, diving to take a low cross before it reached the England international.
There were muted appeals for a U's penalty on eighty three minutes but the referee waved play on as Lee Beevers went to ground.
Even the Sunderland faithful in the 13,532 crowd wouldn't have begrudged the visitors a late consolation but it wasn't to be for John Ward's troops.
It was the U's first defeat of the seasonbut the manner of the performance will give them confidence for Friday's league match against Carlisle.
U's: Cousins, Wilson, Okuonghae, Baldwin, White, James, Izzet (Beevers 49), Perkins (Vincent 65), Henderson (Elito 76), Wordsworth, Odejayi.
Subs: Pentney, Heath, Bond, Mooney.