For 23 minutes, Wolverhampton Wanderers' efforts to derail the irrepressible Cardiff City bandwagon were working perfectly. They had come out positively, full of vigour and confidence and, perhaps most importantly of all, had silenced a crowd which creates an atmosphere befitting a bearpit.
Then Gary Breen threw out his arms to gesture to the linesman that Steve Thompson had gone into an aerial challenge by leading with his arm. As he did so, Thompson was running back and thus Breen's arm accidentally connected with his face right in front of linesman Ron Ganfield.
The home team's supporters howled for blood, Mr Ganfield sensed his moment of glory and up went the flag. Over marched referee Pat Miller  already a strange appointment for a match of this magnitude bearing in mind this was only the third Championship game of a fledgling refereeing career.
With even Thompson protesting Breen's innocence, Miller was not altogether taken in by his assistant's verdict but, after speaking to him twice, out came the red card. That was game over.
Dealing with Dave Jones's super-confident Bluebirds with 11 men is tough enough, even though Wolves appeared up to the task with Leon Clarke squandering the best chance of the match before Breen's dismissal.
With ten, it was only a matter of time before the Wolves rearguard buckled under the strain, even though the wounds, five minutes either side of half time, were self-inflicted. First, otherwise impressive Seyi Olofinjana lost Riccardo Scimeca at a corner, allowing the former
Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion midfielder a free header from Paul Parry's delivery.
Then Charlie Mulgrew failed to obtain enough height and distance on a clearing header which, instead of finding its target, bounced inadvertently off Jody Craddock for a comical own goal, albeit one which Mick McCarthy "didn't find very funny".
To his credit the Wolves manager still went in search of something from the match, throwing on Jay Bothroyd and Craig Davies, but there were too many gaps at the other end for the buoyant hosts to exploit, substitute Melvin Kamara and Paul Parry striking late to further gloss a flat-tering scoreline.
Much of the post-match discussion originated from the defining moment, the Breen sending-off and, while the defender declined to comment, it is understood he maintains it was a complete accident. Jones begged to differ, saying a raised hand means red whatever the circumstances. McCarthy will take a closer look at the match video as Wolves mull over any possibility of appeal. In the meantime, he praised Thompson for trying to save Breen's bacon.
"'Thommo' was saying 'Breeny' hadn't done anything wrong, it was an accident, and even though it didn't have an effect I admire him for that," McCarthy said.
"There are too many arseholes in this game that fall over like dying swans. He didn't do that, he appealed on Breen's behalf and in that respect you can't speak highly enough of a fellow professional."