Marcelo Bielsa saw a game slipping away from him and with three-half time changes wrenched it suddenly back into his grasp.
That Leeds United eventually lost 5-4 on penalties didn't seem to matter to Elland Road, after a stirring second half comeback that threatened to oust Stoke City from the Carabao Cup
After 45 minutes, the Whites were 2-0 down and going out
After 96 they were drawing 2-2 and Stoke were relieved to still be in the competition
Jack Harrison's fateful fifth spot-kick bounced back off the post and Stoke progressed to round three, yet the home fans stood to acclaim their heroes and belted out the winger's name
Bielsa's interval introduction of Adam Forshaw, Ben White and Harrison turned the game completely in the home side's favour and thrilled those of a Yorkshire persuasion in the 30,002 crowd.
Eddie Nketiah and Helder Costa scored the goals to restore parity, but it was the trio of replacements who dragged Leeds back into it.
The first half wasn't quite Leeds United, certainly not the Leeds United fans have come to know this season.
Marcelo Bielsa made eight changes, Nathan Jones made nine, but the former went with youth and the latter with experience.
An influx of kids - five of the starting XI were 19 or younger - gave Leeds a fresh, energetic look from the off, but they lacked nouse and physicality at times.
Sam Vokes gave Leeds a taste of his aerial prowess early on, winning headers in the area but firstly failing to trouble Kiko Casilla and, at the second attempt, failing to hit the target.
The hosts' first chance arrived when Kalvin Phillips pinged the ball left, Barry Douglas sent it back to the middle and then Leeds went right, Jamie Shackleton getting into a position to cross and finding Douglas at the back post, the Scot's volley flashing over.
The Whites, a much shorter side than their visitors, still posed their own threat from a set-piece, Barry Douglas swinging a 35-yard free-kick to the back post where Leif Davis arrived late to win a header he couldn't direct goalwards.
Leeds appeared to be hitting their stride, in possession, but it was the anticipation of defender Gaetano Berardi out of possession that led to their best chance, midway through the half.
He nipped in to cut out a pass, high up the pitch, and set Leeds on a lightning counter attack that ended with a wonderfully hit Nketiah shot, Jack Butland clutching thin air as the ball cannoned off the post.
Helder Costa then had a go, running down the right, cutting inside and unleashing a fierce drive that whistled past the upright.
A pair of corners troubled the visitors, before they took the lead from one of their own.
Stoke lined up their big men, Sam Clucas curled in the corner and Danny Batth got up highest to beat Casilla with a header.
Leeds didn't just go behind for the first time this season, they went two behind in quick time.
Tyrese Campbell got at Phillips, skinned him and slid the ball across the box for Vokes to knock home under pressure, and all of a sudden there was a mountain to climb.
It was unfamiliar and more than a little underwhelming for a packed Elland Road.
But Bielsa took decisive action at the break, sending on White, Forshaw and Harrison, withdrawing Jack Clarke, Shackleton and Alfie McCalmont.
The trio all slotted in seamlessly and not only got up to speed with the game but upped the tempo all over the pitch.
White got on the ball from deep and dictated, Harrison gave Stoke a new problem on the left and Forshaw was, seemingly, everywhere.
Everything got better, quicker and Elland Road got louder and louder.
The increase in intensity didn't suit the visitors and, rattled, they coughed up a goal.
Jack Butland, perhaps rushed into a clearance by the proximity of Nketiah, made a hash of it and found the back of one of his defenders, allowing Nketiah to pick up the ball, ghost past the keeper and roll it into the empty net.
His work rate, pace and strength all make him fun to watch but ultimately it's his goalscoring exploits that have made him an instant favourite in Leeds.
With that goal, Elland Road was rocking and Stoke tried to take the sting out of it, a succession of players slow to get up after challenges, taking their time to get the ball back in play.
Bielsa's discontent at the time wasting antics earned him a yellow card but his anger also fuelled the home crowd, so the sting remained very much in the game.
When a corner was flicked across goal by White and Nketiah appeared unmarked at the back stick, the second goal seemed for all the world imminent, yet he couldn't get a firm enough connection to turn it home.
Still Leeds came, the visitors falling deeper and deeper and only inviting pressure.
Harrison demanded the ball time and time again and it was no surprise at all that the equaliser came from a left-wing move.
Davis was the man to supply the glorious cross that allowed Costa to coast in at the far post and nod in Leeds' second.
It was pure, unadulterated Bielsa Leeds.
And from that point, you'd have backed only one side to win it.
Yet Stoke, to their credit, put together a late counter attack down the left flank that very nearly put them in the third round.
Sam Clucas sent in a dangerous low cross, Vokes arrived at the back post and this time he couldn't finish, Davis denying him with a vital challenge.
Leeds too had late opportunities to cap a perfect second half, yet despite sniffs at goal in six minutes of time added on, to penalties it went.
Both teams were flawless in the shootout, Kiko Casilla getting close to a couple of Stoke penalties but unable to keep any out, until Harrison's effort pinged off the post and the visitors, clearly a relieved bunch, celebrated.
Stoke will go on in the Carabao Cup and Leeds United will march on in search of what really matters to them this season.