IT is the morning after the night before, but the effects of Oxford United’s collapse at Bristol Rovers are yet to wear off.

Having been in a position of such control, it is still difficult to work out how exactly the U’s turned a comfortable victory into a devastating defeat.

At half-time in extra time, with 15 minutes to protect a two-goal lead, United were seemingly home and dry.

Anyone who watched the game would have thought exactly that, especially as they should have been even further ahead by that stage.

"Not acceptable": Karl Robinson's reaction to Oxford United collapse

But like the ‘first leg’ at the Kassam Stadium the U’s missed chances, switched off and Rovers took full advantage.

United had been pleasingly solid as a back three and a defensive four of Sam Long, Luke McNally, Elliott Moore and Steve Seddon should not have been cause for alarm.

But the centre backs were in no-man’s land for Sion Spence’s 110th-minute header and in a flash the momentum turned.

When the U’s fought back brilliantly to beat Gillingham in April, it felt like they were riding an unstoppable wave.

This time, the tide turned against them and Aaron Collins equalised with a goal that will be up there with the very best scored in this season’s FA Cup.

The ball hit the net seemingly in slow motion, as tends to happen with the very best and worst moments in football.

It was the same for the winner, as Eastwood got his bearings all wrong, Long did not do enough to put off Josh Grant and Spence did the rest.

National outlets and neutrals have spent the last 14 hours marvelling at the ‘scenes’ that greeted Rovers’ comeback, but there are two sides to every story and United should have not let them anywhere near.

WATCH: Highlights of last night's game

Many of us were scratching our heads for a different reason when the U’s team news was released before kick-off.

A 3-2-4-1 formation with seven changes was certainly experimental, but there were several reasons for optimism.

The back three, or five, did not give Rovers a sniff in the first half, with Harry Anderson’s hopeful effort seven minutes before the break the hosts’ first shot on goal.

Anthony Forde and Ryan Williams suited the wing-back roles well, as did Steve Seddon when he came on – ironic, considering the formation may next be used when the latter is unavailable.

The centre of the pitch felt a little crowded, with two holding midfielders behind two players in attacking roles, while Matty Taylor linked with those behind him better than Dan Agyei.

RATINGS: All the Oxford United players marked out of 10

Changes disrupted United in the first game against Rovers, but this time they became better as Taylor and Seddon scored only the club’s second and third goals by substitutes this season.

For the ninth time in 2021/22, though, they went ahead and failed to win. The U’s have improved on that front in the last month, but closing out games is clearly still an issue.

United’s season will not be judged on how far they get in the Cup, yet the manner of this defeat is immensely frustrating.

Now to ensure the hangover has well and truly gone before Saturday’s trip to Wigan Athletic.