Adelaide United's defence of the Westfield FFA Cup came to an end in the form of a painful 3-1 loss away to fierce foes Melbourne Victory in the quarter-finals on Tuesday night.
First-half goals from Guilherme Finkler and Kosta Barbarouses earned Kevin Muscat's side a comfortable lead going into the break against the Reds.
Adelaide got one back courtesy of a Marcelo Carrusca penalty in the 79th minute, only for Victory to put the result beyond doubt thanks to a spot-kick of their own, converted by Besart Berisha with eight minutes remaining.
Guillermo Amor will now seek to rally his troops for a home re-match with the Big V in the opening round of the new Hyundai A-League season next month, while a possible semi-final derby against Melbourne City could lie in wait for the men in navy blue and white.
It has been four months since the 'Big V' played a competitive match at AAMI Park, last appearing in front of their own fans when they demolished Sydney FC 3-0 in the A-League grand final on May 17.
And while Australian football supporters have been counting down the days of the marathon off-season, it looked as though the league champions had barely been away, making a fast start and opening the scoring 10 minutes into the contest against their long-term rivals from across the border in South Australia.
A well-placed Daniel Georgievski through-ball played Fahid Ben Khalfallah in behind the Reds' defence, prompting Osama Malik to scythe down the winger and earn himself a yellow card.
The resulting dead-ball situation proved just as costly as giving up a clear sight of goal though, Finkler curling what has become a trademark free-kick over the wall and into the top left corner of the net, leaving visiting goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic helpless.
Victory capped off a dominant first half by doubling their lead two minutes into time added on. The decisive move started with Finkler robbing Adelaide of possession and finding debutant Oliver Bozanic, who in turn released Ben Khalfallah down the left flank.
His delivery was met by Barbarouses at the back post, where the New Zealand international guided home a cool finish. Victory passed up several presentable chances to make it 3-0, allowing the resurgent Reds to work their way back into the contest.
The away team pulled one back from the spot through Carrusca in the 79th minute after Georgievski was deemed, perhaps harshly, to have fouled Craig Goodwin inside the area.
Any hopes of a late comeback though were snuffed out when Galekovic brought down substitute Archie Thompson at the other end barely three minutes later, Berisha making no mistake with the penalty and restoring Victory's two-goal buffer.
The only blemish on the night for Victory was the sight of Thompson stretchered off in injury time with a suspected knee injury following an awkward collision with Michael Marrone.