But the reality was not entirely so. They could have actually got something out of the fixture at Loughborough University.
Fine goalkeeping by the hosts, a controversial penalty, a disallowed goal and lapses defensively told a strange story.
Steve Seddon, who was outstanding all evening, scored Blues goal in the 50th minute after they were three in arrears at the break.
But Blues momentum was broken by a bad injury to Derby's Joe Bateman, halting play for several minutes, when they looked a good bet to fight back level.
Wes Harding, Seddon and Agustin Medina came into the side, along with Tate Campbell, Mitchell Roberts, George Baker, Miguel Fernandez, Adan George and Jayden Reid for the Group H contest.
Blues opened brightly and with Seddon rampaging down the left flank, made the early running.
The left-back stung the hands of Jonathan Mitchell after intercepting on halfway and playing a give-and-go with Reid.
As Blues continued to press, Campbell slid the ball through for George to run off the shoulder of a defender but he was thwarted by a combination of 'keeper and Lee Buchanan, who booted clcear at the vital moment.
In the 28th minute, Derby took the lead from a ball over the top, to Jahmal Hector-Ingram, who was challenged by Joe Redmond and stumbled. He recovered and set the ball for Josh Shonibare whose powerful drive from the left of the area took a deflection past Moha Ramos.
Two minutes later Blues fell further behind, from the penalty spot, with Hector-Ingram driving the spot-kick straight down the middle.
Blues felt aggrieved at its award as Shonibare, running across the Blues box, exaggerated a fall, if not flopped, as Campbell tried to shepherd him away.
Blues continued to remain unbowed and when Seddon came forward again and laid the ball down the outside for Reid, he made ground to the byline and crossed dangerously, only for Ethan Wassall to find the ball at his feet in front of goal, and able to clear, as it missed the oncoming rush of attacking players.
Next a flowing move involving Seddon, Baker, Campbell and Medina worked space for Harding, who powered in down the right, but he stuck his attempt at goal from a decent position high and wide.
Two minutes before half-time Derby struck again, countering on Blues after Baker guided a pass behind the defence for George to latch onto. George's touch with his left foot took him a little wide as he moved into the area and when he left fly, a defender had raced back to make a superb block.
From the loose ball Derby promptly launched it downfield to Hector-Ingram, who faced up by Redmond, created a yard of space on the left of the area before curving a powerful shot past Ramos' dive.
Blues changed shape to match up with Derby in a 4-2-3-1 after the break and really got after them.
They got a good sight of goal in the 49th minute when Fernandez and Reid combined to get the ball into the heart of the area, but Baker couldn't steer it on target with the outside of his boot from close range.
Blues then did get a breakthrough, via Seddon. Reid and Seddon again combined and the latter, bursting into the box, hit a firm and true shot that struck Bateman's legs on its way past Mitchell.
With the bit between their teeth, Blues came again and Harding had a great chance on the right of the area and elected to cut back onto his left foot to try and gain a better angle, and was blocked.
On the hour Fernandez was denied by a stunning save from Mitchell. Campbell played a lovely ball for Harding to attack down the right and his first time cross was ideal for Fernandez, coming towards the six-yard box. But the 'keeper scuttled across brilliantly to get in the way and divert the sidefoot attempt over the crossbar.
After another dangerous cross into the box, this time by Seddon inswinging from the right, Derby again cleared their lines but this time Bateman injured his ankle in the process. He required on-pitch treatment before being taken off on a stretcher.
The break in play seemed to affect Blues as they conceded a fourth goal, from a 69th minute corner. The ball was delivered into the thick of it and Jordan Brown got away from his marker to glance it past Ramos from close range.
Blues sent on Josh Andrews and Ryan Burke in a double change, and pushed Seddon further on in the three behind.
Harding, who was also full of running and drive, found Fernandez in space infield and he angled a decent left-foot curler towards the bottom corner, only for Mitchell to fling himself at full length and palm away. Blues retrieved the ball and a clipped cross from Seddon was nodded goalward by George, but straight at the 'keeper.
Andrews, tracking back valiantly to stop a Derby counter attack in his own box when Blues were left exposed from a corner, sustained a deep gash on his leg in making the tackle and had to be replaced himself.
That put extra minutes on the added-time, during which came more craziness.
Blues again causing panic in the home ranks, with first Redmond and then Harding being blocked from forcing the ball in during a goalmouth scramble and again Derby broke, with lightning-quick Festy Ebosele driving towards goal only for Kane Thompson-Sommers to stick with him to put him off his stroke.
The action then swung to the other end and a great low ball on the run in behind by Harding was controlled by Fernandez and calmly slotted into the bottom corner from the centre of the area. It was disallowed for offside, and replays showed afterwards that Fernandez was, in fact, onside.
As the game finally died out, in the seventh minute of added-time, Derby got the ball into Jayden Mitchell-Lawson from a left wing throw and he veered across the Blues defence on the edge of the area before thumping a rising shot past Ramos.
Blues: Ramos, Harding, Seddon, Campbell, Redmond, Roberts, Baker (Burke 77), Medina, Fernandez, George, Reid (Andrews 77 (Thompson-Sommers 90+3)). Sub not used: Forrest.