Blues were narrowly beaten by former manager Chris Hughton's Brighton & Hove Albion at the American Express Community Stadium.
The hosts took the lead through Solly March, before Jon Toral's header pegged them back. But Bobby Zamora's goal two minutes into the second-half proved decisive.
Brighton started on the front foot and created two opening chances on a wet afternoon on the South coast.
After five minutes, full-back Liam Rosenior ventured forward but his cross was headed over by Dale Stephens moments before Jamie Murphy tried his luck from the edge of the area. After skipping inside from the left wing, his shot flashed across Tomasz Kuszczak's goal.
Five minutes later and Kuszczak was called into action. With Blues up the pitch attacking a corner, Brighton cleared their lines and swiftly broke.
Fortunately for the visitors Solly March's pass didn't quite find it's intended target and Blues crowded out the attack before the ball fell to Tomer Hemed, who forced Kuszczak into a solid stop, down low.
Just after the quarter of an hour, Chris Hughton's side took the lead. Good work from Murphy and a dangerous cross by Rosenior, found March at the back-post; his initial shot was blocked but the midfielder reacted quickest to fire past Kuszczak who could only get a hand to the ball.
The goal sparked Rowett's side into life. They responded well to going behind and within five minutes were level.
Jon Toral found the net after Jacques Maghoma's effort was poorly parried by David Stockdale into the path of the Spanish loanee, who nodded the ball into an empty net.
Nicolai Brock-Madsen then went close moments after Liam Rosenior was streteched off after a heavy challenege. The Danish forward tried to bend his effort into Stockdale' top left-hand corner, narrowly missed the target.
The wet conditions played their part and Kuszczak had referee Gavin Ward to thank for sparing his blushes, as the 'keeper spilled March's free-kick which was tapped home, but the referee had already blown after spotting an infringment on the Blues stopper - much to Kuszczak's refief.
Beram Kayal then brought the Polish 'keeper into action again soon after. Kayal's powerful free-kick on the edge of the area parried to safety by Kuszczak.
Kuszczak was certaintly the busier of the two keepers as he again denied Brighton from a set-piece, this time the 'keeper pushing March's in-swinging free-kick out for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Jonathan Grounds made an important clearance to deny Seagulls skipper Gordon Greer who attacked the ball from deep. Grounds denying Greer what would have been a free header.
With five minutes added on at he end of the opening 45, following Rosenior's injury, Toral went close to netting his second. After Caddis intercepted and played the ball inside to the Spaniard, Toral worked a yard for himself on the edge of the area before narrowly curling his effort inches wide of the right-hand post.
The sides went in at the interval with the hosts enjoying much of the ball, but Blues frustrated their opponents and stood firm at the back following a lot of crosses, corners and balls into the box.
Back out for the second-half and it was the hosts who continued to press and they regained the lead two minutes after the restart through Bobby Zamora.
Murphy got to the byline, his pull-back found Solly whose shot was saved and Zamora was there to fire home the rebound from close range.
Five minutes later and Brighton were almost gifted a third. March's corner was fumbled by Kuszczak at his near post, fortunately for Blues the rebound was fired over the crossbar.
Just after the hour Rowett changed it up, bringing on David Davis and debutant James Vaughan for Jacques Maghoma and Nicolai Brock-Madsen.
Vaughan was involved almost instantly, as Maikel Keiftenbeld's cross was met by the head of the striker but his header from 12 yards was easily gathered by Stockdale.
With Blues pushing forward, Hughton's side almost caught them on the counter, March picked the ball up on the half-way, before driving at the Blues defence, luckily Kuszczak was on hand to gather his cross before it found James Wilson in the middle.
It was then Blues' turn to attack, as Demarai Gray latched onto a Vaughan flick and forced Stockdale into a save at his near post.
With little less than ten miniutes remaining, James Wilson went close as his low drive fell inches wide of Kuszczak's left-hand post.
With the last throw of the dice for Rowett, he threw on Viv Solomon-Otabor - hoping he could replicate his cameo at Fulham earlier in the month.
Wilson again thought he'd sealed the win. This time, bearing down on goal with only Kuszczak to beat. He beat the 'keeper, but saw his effort crash back off the upright into Kuszczak's grateful grasp.
In the first of six minutes added on at the end of the 90; Vaughan, with his back to goal, tried to hook an effort from the egde of the area goalwards but it wasn't troubling Stockdale.
Two minutes later and Stockdale was brought into action and he made a fantastic save to deny David Davis what would have been a superb effort.
Davis unleashing a fierce effort from the edge of the area, with Stockdale getting down low to save it one-handed.
Into the final minute of added time and Kayal nearly sealed the win but Kuszczak was equal to his effort from the edge of the area.
Despite Blues' best efforts, their trip to the Amex Stadium ended in defeat.