An experimental Development Squad side slipped to a 3-0 reverse against Sky Bet League Two outfit Newport County at Little Heath on Saturday.
With as many as eight Under-21 regulars on first-team duty in Germany, coach Nick Haycock fielded a number of U16s and U18s in an unfamiliar looking line-up.
Yan Klukowski nodded the visitors ahead inside half an hour, before Chris Zebroski and Rene Howe settled it with a twin strike in the space of three second-half minutes. Haycock, however, felt his charges had shown maturity beyond their years, even though it ultimately proved too stiff a test for his makeshift squad.
"We went with what we had and the mantra, as ever, is challenging the players at that next level," he explained. "For the majority of the first half they competed excellently. The two young boys, Anthony Scully and Tunji Akinola, for 16-year-olds, playing against league opposition, did terrifically well and the more senior lads led by example, just as we had asked them to.
"Newport are firing on all cylinders. It was their last game before their season starts next week. They played and beat Coventry in the week, so we knew it was going to be a real tough test and on another day we might have got an even better result than we did. I'm pleased though that it was a respectable scoreline because, all in all, I think it deserved to be."
By the time County had hit the front, Hammers stopper Danzelle St Louis Hamilton had twice been called into action. He firstly tipped Robbie Willmott's free-kick around the post, before getting down smartly to repel Joe Parker's first-time volley.
But there was little he could do about the goal. Andrew Hughes' deep cross was met firstly by Parker, then by Michael Flynn and finally by Klukowski who could hardly miss from point-blank range.
A disjointed second period was punctuated by a quick-fire double, with Zebroski firing home on the turn, albeit through the legs of substitute 'keeper Yusuf Mersin. And the game was all but over two minutes later when Howe hared away on the break, before calmly slotting past an exposed Mersin.
The Hammers' task had been made all the more difficult by County manager Justin Edinburgh naming an entirely different second-half XI, with Haycock admitting fatigue had played its part in the latter stages.
He continued: "They obviously changed the whole team and had that extra energy against young lads. None of our lads had played 90 minutes yet and some had to do that on Saturday. It was a needs must scenario, but they got through it.
"We conceded two sloppy goals and had the second one not gone in, which we should have saved, there was a game on, particularly as we brought on a few of the experienced lads who we we'd been holding back for Woking on Tuesday."
Looking ahead to that midweek trip to the Kingfield Stadium, Haycock remains unsure of who exactly he will have at his disposal, as Sam Allardyce's men gear up for their final pre-season fixture ahead of the Barclays Premier League.
"It will be interesting to see what side we can put out, because I think quite a few are going to be training with the first team this week," Haycock confirmed. "The most important thing is that the first team's preparations are bang on for Sampdoria and then for Tottenham.
"We've got plenty of players, youth team players who can step in and whatever team we put out, we'll be going there to try and win the football match."
West Ham United: St Louis Hamilton (Mersin 46), Labonne (Westley 59), Mavila, Makasi, Onariase, Akinola, Gordon (Turgott 59), Scully (Bywater 59), Maiga (Martins 76), Trialist (Powell 76), Sheriff (Sadlier 59).