Despite a strong performance, David McGoldrick's late strike wasn't enough to earn us anything from our trip to Edgeley Park.
We found ourselves 2-0 down heading into second-half injury time after a Kyle Wootton strike and Paddy Madden's penalty.
It hadn't told the full story of a game we had dominated - and McGoldrick's neat finish proved a mere consolation.
Luke Williams was able to call upon the services of fit-again duo Kyle Cameron and McGoldrick for this trip to the table-toppers, both taking up familiar positions in the starting XI at the expense of the bench-bound Jim O’Brien and Adam Chicksen.
That meant Aidan Stone was protected by a back three of Cameron, Aden Baldwin and Richard Brindley, with Jodi Jones and Aaron Nemane manning the flanks.
John Bostock paired up with Sam Austin in midfield, with McGoldrick and Dan Crowley assisting Macaulay Langstaff in attack.
What would go on to be a very strong first half began in the worst possible fashion when, on seven minutes, Wootton swept home a low corner to put his side ahead with their first threatening moment of the match.
They would go on to be kept at bay for the remainder of the half as we produced an assured response, McGoldrick being denied by two excellent defensive interventions to prevent him from turning home crosses from Crowley and Langstaff.
We continued to dominate and, shortly after Jones had cut in from the left and sent a low effort a couple of yards wide, a big chance passed us by as the unmarked Langstaff failed to connect with Crowley’s whipped free-kick.
A minute later, Langstaff sent a long-range effort over – and there was a nervy moment for Hatters keeper Ben Hinchcliffe shortly afterwards as he had to push Brindley’s deflected cross over his own bar.
McGoldrick sent an effort over from the subsequent corner, our last chance to level before the interval, but we continued on the front foot in the second as an excellent Jones cross just evaded McGoldrick and then Langstaff two minutes after the restart.
We were nearly hit with a sucker punch shortly afterwards, though, as the hosts won a fight ball inside their own area, enabling Madden to send Wootton through on goal. Stone did well to push his effort wide and then had Brindley to congratulate for an instinctive block on the line from the resultant corner, with Madden firing over in the aftermath.
That proved to be only a momentary threat, though, as we quickly regained control and carved out a half-chance for Langstaff, who couldn’t quite rise high enough to volley Jones’ cross on target at the back post.
A much bigger opportunity presented itself two minutes later when Nemane won possession inside Stockport’s area and supplied McGoldrick six yards out. Stretching slightly to apply the finish, he saw his effort blocked on the line.
We were in again a minute later when Crowley played a perfectly-weighted through ball for Langstaff, who couldn’t quite squeeze his shot beyond the onrushing Hinchcliffe.
Williams made his first change of the night with 10 minutes to play, sending Tobi Adebayo on for Brindley.
But an unfortunate Adebayo mistake led to the hosts having a golden opportunity to double their lead from the spot, the wing back losing his footing on halfway to allow Stockport to counter, forcing a foul from Cameron in the area. Madden took responsibility for the spotkick and sent Stone the wrong way.
We were given five added minutes to complete a miraculous comeback and we threatened to do just that when McGoldrick’s magical feet saw him dance into the area and find the bottom corner.
But we were unable to find the all-important second goal on a night where the performance didn’t match the result.
STARTING XI: Stone; Cameron, Baldwin, Brindley (Adebayo 80’); Jones, Nemane; Bostock (Gosling 87’), Austin, Crowley, McGoldrick; Langstaff
SUBS: Rawlinson, Tipton, Chicksen, O’Brien, Sanderson
BOOKINGS: Bostock 76’, Cameron 85’
ATTENDANCE: 10,243 (906)