That’s five years in a row Posh have failed at the first hurdle and they haven’t managed to score in the last four ties, but this one must have stung the most.
True, Posh fielded many of their younger and probable back-up players, but they could well be required in the Championship at times which, currently, is quite a scary thought.
Ryan Hardie scored twice in the first-half for an impressive Plymouth side. Will Jephcott and Panutche Camara added goals after the break to complete a final scoreline that didn’t flatter the visitors.
Indeed the fact debutant Posh goalkeeper Dai Cornell was a clear man of the match in a humbling defeat was rather telling.
Posh boss Darren Ferguson was happy, and quite justified, to make seven changes from the team that played poorly at Luton on Saturday. Only Josh Knight, Frankie Kent, Joe Tomlinson and Jorge Grant survived and there were club debuts for new signings Dai Cornell in goal and Kwame Poku in midfield.
Plymouth made just one change from the team that lost at Rotherham on Saturday. They named a very young substututes’ bench.
Posh started with wingbacks as Joe Tomlinson confirmed his versatility by lining up on the right. Poku and fellow newcomer Joel Randall were deployed just behind striker Ricky-Jade Jones, one of four teenagers in the side.
Plymouth were the first to threaten after 15 minutes when Cornell was forced into a fine low save to keep out a 20-yarder from Camara.
Soon afterwards Jones was forced off and replaced by Idris Kanu. And within five minutes the visitors took the lead with a fine finish from Hardie, although Posh were guilty of standing off the striker on the corner of their own penalty area.
It was almost 2-0 in 28 minutes when again Posh retreated rather than attacked enabling Danny Mayor to bring a fine save from Cornell. The keeper’s block to thwart Hardie on the follow-up was even better.
Posh failed to heed the warnings. Within a minute Hardie escaped onto a long ball over the top forcing Cornell to save at his near post. Jephcott then glanced a header wide as Plymouth continued to dominate before Jorge Grant had to scamper back into his own area to catch Hardie after he had broken clear.
Hardie wasn’t to be denied for long though. A fine left wing cross was won at the far post and the centre forward was able to ram home from close range in the 33rd minute.
Posh immediately switched to a flat back four with Knight pushed into midfield, but the passing was ragged and rarely in tune with the movement, such as it was, of the forwards.
And Cornell was called into action again just before the break when Hardie showed Ronnie Edwards a clean pair of heels before forcing another decent low stop.
Posh started the second half brightly with Grant and Randall linking up neatly before Harrison Burrows saw his shot deflected just over the crossbar.
All the Posh threat came from the left with Burrows and Randall prominent, but clearcut chances remained elusive.
Instead Plymouth created more with less. Cornell excelled again after one swift break gave Jephcott a shooting chance from 20 yards.
Posh looked to have a good shout for penalty when Kent was blocked off while trying to get on the end of a fine Randall cross, but referee Ben Toney gave a free-kick to the visitors for reasons that weren’t obvious.
And just to rub it in Plymouth mounted a rare second half attack, won a corner and added a third goal after winning a far post header enabling Jephcott to tap home from close range in the 66th minute. Good luck to the new Posh set-piece coach watching from the technical area.
Posh rallied, inspired by substitute Joe Ward, with Randall and Knight seeing shots well blocked before Randall tested visiting ‘keeper Michael Cooper from range.
Camara added a fourth goal after having been afforded too much space in the penalty area to poke home Jephcott’s cross six minutes from time which was the cue for many Posh fans to walk out.
They missed a fingertip save from Cooper to thwart Knight from 25 yards, but little else.
Posh: Dai Cornell, Joe Tomlinson, Ronnie Edwards, Frankie Kent, Josh Knight , Harrison Burrows, Ethan Hamilton (sub Kyle Barker, 58 mins), Kwame Poku (sub Joe Ward, 58 mins), Jorge Grant, Joel Randall, Ricky-Jade Jones (sub Idris Kanu, 18 mins).
Unused subs: Christy Pym, Dan Butler, Emmanuel Fernandez, Charlie O’Connell.
Plymouth: Michael Cooper, Conor Grant, Brendan Galloway, Dan Scarr, James Wilson, Joe Edwards, Danny Mayor (sub Ryan Law, 42 mins), Jordan Houghton (sub Adam Randall, 76 mins), Panutche Camara, Ryan Hardie, Luke Jephcott (sub Rhys Shirley, 84 mins).
Unused subs: Callum Burton, Macaulay Gillesphey, Finley Craske, Ollie Tomlinson.
Goals: Plymouth – Hardie (24 mins & 33 mins), Jephcott (66 mins), Camara (84 mins).
Cautions: Plymouth – Galloway (foul).
Referee: Ben Toner 7.
Attendance: 4,021 (260 Plymouth).