Brisbane Roar succumbed to a painful sucker punch on Wednesday, conceding in injury time to lose 1-0 at home to the 10 men of Beijing Guoan.
Forced by the combination of a rock concert and AFC red tape to relocate all of their 2015 group stage home matches from Suncorp Stadium to a sparsely populated Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast, the reigning A-League champions proved unable to break down their visitors, despite the Chinese Super League side being a man down for an hour of the game.
The distinctly cagey contest didn't come to life until after the 29th minute, when Swede Erton Fejzullahu was sent off for a crude stamp on Adam Sarota's chest.
Having been starved of chances in the first half hour, the hosts went close to opening the scoring several times before the break.
On 36 minutes Thomas Broich picked out Andrija Kaluderovic from deep. The Serbian laid the ball off to Sarota, who should have at least tested the goalkeeper but succeeded only in firing high over the bar.
Two minutes later Kaluderovic's appeals for a penalty fell on deaf ears when he went down easily inside the area following the lightest of tugs on the shoulder, before Broich curled a fierce strike just beyond the top right corner of Hou Sen's goal.
Jade North had the final say before half-time, directing a tame header from a corner straight at a grateful Hou while unmarked at the back post.
Frans Thijssen's men couldn't pick up where they left off in the second half, with Brendan Borello's blocked shot and half chances missed by Kaluderovic and Shane Stefanutto - both headers - the closest the home side came to breaking the deadlock.
And they paid the ultimate price for that profligacy in time added on, when a long-range free-kick from Shao Jiayi deflected off Kaluderovic and flew past stranded goalkeeper Michael Theo.
Up next for the Roar in this competition is a trip to face Urawa Red Diamonds in Saitama on March 4, when Beijing Guoan will play host to South Korea's Suwon Samsung Bluewings.