Xavi has revealed he was planning to call on Gerard Pique from the bench, had the retiring defender not seen red at half-time in Barcelona's clash with Osasuna.
Pique's glittering career ended on a low note on Tuesday, with the 35-year-old receiving his marching orders from referee Jesus Gil Manzano without even leaving the bench.
With Barca 1-0 down and a man down at half-time, having seen star striker Robert Lewandowski sent off, substitute Pique was shown a red card for dissent during the interval.
After an emotional send-off at Camp Nou at the weekend, an eighth LaLiga dismissal brought an end to his career.
Xavi was hoping to rely on his former team-mate, but instead had to struggle through with a makeshift backline after Andreas Christensen went off midway through the second half, with youngster Chadi Riad coming on as a late substitute.
"I was going to use Gerard," Xavi said at his post-match press conference.
"We knew that Chad was going to come in, Andreas was struggling with an injury. Eric [García] had some discomfort in the warm-up, and we were forced to not have him start.
"We did think about bringing in Gerard, but he was sent off at half-time when things got tense."
Even with their defensive issues and numerical disadvantage, Barca came away with a 2-1 win that saw them move five points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga, with Raphinha netting a late winner.
"We felt that wasn’t just, we felt they were against us and that’s why we reacted so strongly," Xavi said.
"We celebrated this win as if everything was against us. The goal we conceded was a foul, then Lewandowski was sent off.
"All the decisions by the referee went against us and we thought we grabbed a win in a game we might tie."