Manager Jean Tigana looked to put a disappointing 1-0 defeat to West Ham behind him after the Whites struggled to break into their usual rhythm against a resolute Hammers outfit.
Alain Goma was rested after Tigana voiced fears over giving the Frenchman something of a harsh re-introduction to Premiership football. In Goma's place, Andy Melville returned to the centre of defence alongside Zat Knight.
Up front, Tigana was forced to bring in Barry Hayles for Facundo Sava, after the Argentine suffered a calf strain.
As a result of the changes and West Ham's dogged determination in midfield, Fulham did nothing to suggest that a repeat performance of the Manchester United display was going to be forthcoming at any stage of the evening.
Although an 88th minute Paolo di Canio penalty was all that separated the two sides on the night, the Hammers had the better of the goal scoring opportunities.
Speaking after the match, Tigana refused to accept player tiredness as an excuse for his team's performance.
"Some of my team looked very tired tonight, although we had fresh players so I can't use that as an excuse," he said.
"It's possible that we'll pay the penalty for so many games, so we need a bigger, stronger squad."
The turning point of the match was, of course, the sending off of Zat Knight for a textbook penalty offence on Defoe. Tigana made no bones over Knight's instant dismissal.
He said, "It was normal that Zat was sent off tonight. He wanted to get the ball but missed it.
"We made the same mistake as against Manchester United - one ball that went between two players."