IT was a buoyant Melbourne Victory that travelled to Newcastle.
But it took less than 40 minutes for that bubble to burst in spectacular fashion on Thursday night, before the Jets ran out inspired 4-1 winners at McDonald Jones Stadium.
Not for the first time this season former Victory players came back to haunt the Melbourne side, with Daniel Georgievski scoring a cracker in the 14th minute and Andrew Nabbout netting tap ins in either half.
But it wasn't just the scoreboard where Victory was feeling the pinch.
Star defender Rhys Williams - arguably his side's best player this season - came off with right leg injury midway through the first half.
Then midfielder Mark Milligan had another brain fade, which saw the former skipper sent off for trying to headbutt Georgievski before then grabbing his 2014-15 championship teammate by the throat.
Victory finally won its first game of the season last Sunday, defeating Perth at nib Stadium.
And the good times looked like rolling on for Kevin Muscat's men after five minutes when Kosta Barbarouses lashed home a wicked half-volley from the edge of the penalty box after a brilliant ball over the top from James Troisi.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors at a venue that has been the unhappiest of hunting grounds over the years, as Victory has won just three of 18 games there since 2005.
Joey Champness was the other goalscorer in the 75th minute.
"Such a disappointing night," Victory coach Kevin Muscat said.
"We started really well, (Kosta Barbarouses) scored a really good goal, and then obviously after that it was nowhere near good enough.
"We've got to take responsibility because tonight was compounded by ourselves. "We didn't really give ourselves a chance after being so bright and so sharp early on.
"We were nowhere near good enough and it was self-inflicted."
Muscat said the four-day turnaround and travel from Perth had not helped Victory's cause, but was loath to use it as an excuse.
Going down to 10 men after 28 minutes also gave his team a "huge mountain to climb".
Muscat said he had only seen the Milligan incident as it happened and had not yet spoken to his player to hear his explanation.
"From where I was the referee was pretty quick to pull his card out so whatever he was seeing he was sure of," he said.
Ernie Merrick was coaching against one of his former clubs in Victory.
And this free-wheeling Jets side he has put together is seriously impressive.
Notwithstanding the numerical advantage they enjoyed, the Jets battered Victory for most of the night, with man of the match Dimitri Petratos running riot.
Just as Victory finally looked like having its ideal starting XI together for weeks on end, it now has concerns on multiple fronts with Milligan to miss next Sunday's trip to Wellington through suspension and Williams also surely in doubt.
The big worry for Williams, who has endured a career riddled by injury, is that he went down through no contact with any other player.
Victory medical staff appeared to work on his knee or hamstring before he came off.
Milligan's red card, albeit controversial, was the second time this month he has run the gauntlet with referees after he was lucky to remain on the field against Western Sydney on Melbourne Cup-eve.
- with AAP
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