As Leigh Broxham lay prone on the turf, distraught at the own goal he’d just conceded, it seemed to dawn on Victory fans that the jig was up.
The ball had ricocheted off an apologetic Chris Beath in the build-up, and Rhyan Grant was offside as the ball was played in, but not even the VAR would save them now.
Four years previous – almost to the day – Broxham had scored the third in a 3-0 Grand Final rout. Tonight his fate was reversed, in cruelly poetic fashion.
Half the fans hadn’t even made it to their seats at Jubilee Stadium when it began.
Lawrence Thomas – normally so authoritative in his area – made a lame attempt to claim a Brandon O’Neill corner, letting Aaron Calver bundle to ball over the line from point-blank range.
What a time to concede your first goal from a corner all season.
It only got worse for the Victory. A sensational Alex Brosque half-volley and Broxham’s aforementioned friendly fire followed before the break.
Adam Le Fondre added a tidy brace in the second half, one from the penalty spot, before Milos Ninkovic was left all alone at the back post to apply a thick layer of icing to the scoreline.
Not even a nonchalant Ola Toivonen consolation goal could lift the spirits of the travelling faithful, who will have to ruminate over the loss in Sydney overnight – the late kickoff time denying them the mercy of a same-day flight home.
Sydney, meanwhile, have peaked at precisely the right time. Can their ruthless counter-attack propel them to glory next week in Perth?