Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has insisted that he chose to leave Mesut Ozil out of his squad to face Manchester City for "tactical reasons".
The Gunners got their latest Premier League campaign back underway against the reigning champions at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday night.
Arsenal came into the match protecting an unbeaten record in 2020, but ultimately fell to a 3-0 defeat against City due to a combination of bad luck with injuries and a nightmare performance from David Luiz.
Mikel Arteta's team selection also raised more than a few eyebrows, as he fielded a youthful line-up while leaving the likes of Nicolas Pepe, Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac on the bench.
Meanwhile, Ozil, who had been a fixture in Arsenal's starting XI before the coronavirus crisis stopped play in March, was not even asked to travel with the squad, despite the new rules allowing five substitutions per game.
When asked why the German playmaker was left out of his plans, Arteta told reporters post-match: "It was a tactical reason."
In the end, Ozil's absence counted for little, as Arsenal were undone by lapses of concentration in defence and ill-discipline.
The man most chiefly responsible for the defeat was Luiz, who came on to replace the injured Pablo Mari after 24 minutes.
Raheem Sterling capitalised on the Brazilian's failure to deal with a lofted pass from Kevin De Bruyne, stealing in behind before firing past Bernd Leno in the Arsenal net just before the interval.
Four minutes after the restart, Luiz was sent off for bringing down Riyad Mahrez in the penalty area, which allowed De Bruyne to step up and double City's lead from the spot.
Phil Foden's late effort rounded off an easy night's work for City, and Arteta was left bemoaning the sequence of unfortunate events which left his side with a mountain to climb.
He said: "Everything went wrong from the first minute. Every possible accident that could have happened hopefully happened today."
Arteta added on Luiz's horror show at the back: "He is someone that is very honest and straight forward. My opinion of David Luiz hasn't changed. It won't change because he had a difficult performance tonight."
The Arsenal boss concluded by expressing his belief that the players' pre-match show of solidarity towards the Black Lives Matter movement will go a long way to helping eliminate racism in English football.
"I think it is bringing everyone back together again in a very strong message," he said.