Perth Glory suffered an undeserved defeat to Central Coast Mariners in the Saturday evening clash at nib Stadium.
The manner of the loss was particularly cruel, with a sucker punch coming in the form of Mitchell Duke's late strike for the Mariners.
The result leaves Perth plummeting down the A-League table, but of more concern to Head Coach Alistair Edwards will be the injuries suffered by key players, which have the potential to have a lasting impact on the season.
Luck conspired against Glory, with marquee signing William Gallas limping off after half an hour and left back Scott Jamieson stretchered off late with what is likely to be a season-ending injury.
A palpable sense of optimism had surrounded the match prior to kick-off, spurred by the inclusion of former France international defender Gallas in the starting line-up for the first time in front of his new supporters.
Club captain and midfield stalwart Jacob Burns was making his 100th A-League appearance for the club and beguiling Brazilian winger Sidnei Sciola had been offered a two-year contract extension, having already made a significant impression early in his first season.
Glory started strongly, with Gallas looking assured in defence and distributing the ball well from the back. Glory's primary threat throughout came from the left side, with Jamieson and Sidnei combining well.
Sidnei's trickery and guile looked, on several occasions, to have unlocked the Central Coast defence, but Perth were unable to fashion clear opportunities to score.
Glory's early confidence was typified by Gallas, who frequently strode forward out of defence, and the towering centre back almost announced his arrival in the most dramatic style after 18 minutes.
Matthew Davies crossed from the right wing, finding the Frenchman in the area, who executed a spectacular overhead kick which flew just over the crossbar.
Central Coast mounted their first major attempt on goal in the 23rd minute, with New Zealand international Michael McGlinchey unleashing an effort from the edge of the area which was parried by Vukovic into the path of the onrushing Matthew Simon, but the goalkeeper recovered well to make a vital block.
Glory deservedly took the lead in the 25th minute. The influential Jamieson saw the forward run of Jamie Maclaren and launched a well-placed long pass. Maclaren, noting that Liam Reddy had left his line, deftly chipped the ball over the stranded keeper to open the scoring.
Glory looked like building on their lead, but the match turned on the injury of Gallas, who was replaced by Steve Pantelidis.
The confidence seemed to drain from the Glory defence and on 35 minutes McGlinchey struck the equaliser with a well-placed shot from the edge of the penalty area.
Having dominated much of the half, Perth were fortunate to remain level as McGlinchey hit the post with a deft free-kick.
Glory began the second half with attacking intent.
Ryan Edwards, who performed excellently in midfield, hit a fine effort which appeared to be heading for the top corner but for Reddy's flying save.
Smeltz replaced the ineffectual Nagai and joined Maclaren in the forward line as Perth looked to push for the victory.
Cameron Edwards made way for Steve McGarry, who promised to provide his usual drive and bite in the centre of midfield.
Just minutes later however, Alastair Edwards' plans were undone by another injury, this time to Jamieson. In what could prove a real blow to Glory's finals hopes, the former A-League Young Player of the Year has reportedly ruptured his achilles tendon.
With all of Perth's substitutes already used, the side was forced to play out the remainder of the match with 10 men.
Central Coast's extra player eventually proved decisive. In the fourth minute of stoppage time, Rose delivered from deep to Duke, who found himself unmarked in the area and volleyed expertly past Vukovic.