Albion's dreams of claiming Carling Cup glory against Coca-Cola Championship side Reading turned into a first half nightmare at the Madejski Stadium.
The Brewers found themselves three goals down inside the first ten minutes as hesitant defending cost them dear. Royals striker Nicholas Bignall helped himself to two goals in as many minutes to add to David Mooney's opener. Things got worse for Albion as Icelander Gylfi Sigurdsson crashed home a 35 yard effort midway through the half. And although substitute Jimmy Phillips pulled one back, Mooney bagged a fifth for Reading late on.
Brewers boss Paul Peschisolido made four changes to the side beaten at Shrewsbury on Saturday. Kevin Poole replaced Shane Redmond for his first appearance since April. Andy Corbett came in at right back for Marc Edworthy and Michael Simpson was brought into midfield in place of Jimmy Phillips, with Jacques Maghoma moving to the left wing.
Albion were missing Robin Shroot away on international duty with Northern Ireland Under 21s. Greg Pearson earned a starting spot in his place after impressing on Saturday.
Kevin Poole was given an early chance to calm nerves when he comfortably gathered a crossed free-kick from the left.
The Brewers were almost gifted an early goal in the 3rd minute when right back Liam Rosenior failed to deal with a cross from the right by Russell Penn. The ball broke to Greg Pearson but his shot was pushed away by Reading keeper Ben Hamer.
Reading took the lead on six minutes. David Mooney found space down the right side of the Albion defence and powered his shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle.
Reading doubled their lead two minutes later. Nicholas Bignall latched onto a through ball and found himself one on one with the keeper. The young striker made no mistake as he coolly finished past Poole.
And Albions miserable start got worse a minute later. The defence was squared up all too easily by a ball over the top and Bignall capitalised, rounding Poole and slotting home to make it 3-0 in the first 10 minutes.
Pearson had the chance to grab a goal back for the Brewers after 20 minutes. He cut inside his marker drilled the ball low towards goal. His shot was beaten away by the keeper just out of the path of Richard Walker who was closing in.
Reading made it four after 27 minutes with a stunning 30 yard strike from Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Brewers failed to close down and they were punished as Sigurdsson let fly with a low drive which flew in off the inside of the post.
Burton finally began to settle as the half drew to a close. Simpson, McGrath and Maghoma all put passes together before Walker crossed the ball out of play on 38 minutes. Ryan Austin then had a great chance to give the travelling Brewers support something to cheer. He found himself in space at the far post to meet a McGrath free kick, but could only guide his header wide of the post.
Poole prevented the Royals going five up before half time. He produced a smart save low to his right to deny Bignall his first-half hat-trick.
The Brewers made a change at the start of the second with Jimmy Phillips coming on for Richard Walker leaving Greg Pearson as a lone striker. It enabled Maghoma to come inside and support Simpson and McGrath against the Reading midfield trio.
Phillips made his mark on the game with his first Albion goal on 59 minutes. Calmly chesting the ball down on the edge of the box he drilled a low shot across the area which took a deflection off a defender to beat Ben Hamer in the Royals goal.
With the Royals cruising to a place in the second round they added a fifth in the 77th minute as Czech international Marek Matejovsky surged into the area forcing a fine save from Poole but there was little the veteran keeper could do to stop Mooney bagging his second of the night from the rebound.
Albion man of the match: Greg Pearson - worked hard all night and provided a much needed outlet for his team.