The Brumbies have blown a chance to end their Super Rugby drought against the Crusaders, falling away in the second half to lose 36-14 in Christchurch.
The men from Canberra produced one of their most intense 40-minute efforts in recent memory to lead 7-0 at the break on Saturday, playing with a physicality and accuracy that threw the defending champions off kilter.
However, they couldn't maintain it, conceding five tries in a one-sided second half, including a brace each to Crusaders wingers Sevu Reece and Will Jordan.
It means their decade-long wait to beat the nine-time champions goes on. The Brumbies haven't won in Christchurch for nearly 20 years.
The result was a relief for the competition leaders, who were playing their first game in Christchurch since the tragic mosque attacks three weeks earlier.
It was their sixth win from seven games this season while the Brumbies slump to a 2-5 record, the worst of the four Australian sides.
Coach Dan McKellar's decision to rest three Wallabies forwards following a bye week didn't have any negative impact on their exceptional early output.
Captain Christian Lealiifano darted over in the 32nd minute, capitalising on his team's relentless tactic of keeping ball in hand and forcing mistakes from the ill-disciplined hosts.
The Crusaders conceded eight penalties to two by halftime and their Test prop Owen Franks was shown a yellow card in his 150th game for a no-arms tackle on Henry Speight.
Momentum swung on a big scrum from the home pack soon after the break and the tries followed.
Reece crossed once and Jordan twice in the third quarter as the Brumbies were forced into defence mode, struggling to shut down the crafty play-making of inside backs Richie Mo'unga and Ryan Crotty.
Yellow cards were shown to winger Toni Pulu and reserve lock Sam Carter, both for high tackles, making it even harder to stem the red and black tide although the Brumbies created the final try, when Pulu broke from distance to set up Tevita Kuridrani.