Carlo Ancelotti has revealed that he started Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench for Real Madrid's Copa del Rey meeting with Atletico Madrid as he was "a little bit tired".
The Portuguese superstar did not figure as part of los Blancos' starting line-up at Vicente Calderon, where they were defeated 2-0 by their neighbours in a last-16 first-leg encounter.
Ronaldo entered the game in the 63rd minute with his side already behind, and he was unable to have a great impact as Jose Gimenez headed in a second to give Atleti a healthy advantage.
Ancelotti admitted after the game that the Ballon d'Or nominee was slightly fatigued, which is why he did not start.
"Cristiano was a little bit tired and he might have suffered during the match," the Italian coach said in his post-match press conference.
Gareth Bale had been singled out by some sections of the media for a disappointing display, but the Italian rejected such claims.
"We lacked depth in our attack, not only on the left wing but in the team as a whole.
"I didn't see any problem with Bale. It was a problem with the team.
"Gareth tried several things, but it was difficult.
"We controlled the game until the penalty. It is difficult to play against Atletico because they play always as a compact team, always together."
The Bernabeu outfit have lost consecutive matches following their record-breaking 22-game winning streak, and while the 55-year-old admitted it will be difficult to progress to the quarter-finals, he refuted the suggestion his team were in a crisis.
"I think to say crisis is a bit exaggerated, but we have not been happy with the last two matches. We have to win again quickly," Ancelotti added.
"There is still 90 minutes to play in the tie. We do not have much chance of progressing, but we will try with all our strength."