Canterbury's giant-killing late-season run has put the Rabbitohs' top-four hopes on the rocks, while a possible season-ending injury for Braidon Burns and another Sam Burgess blows out a horror night for South Sydney.
Burns cast a dejected figure in the ANZ Stadium sheds as the resurgent bulldogs surged to a 14-6 upset, the luckless young center, re-injuring the same hamstring that slipped it for three months.
While Burns will undergo the obligatory scans and evaluation in the coming days, his on-field reaction and lengthy initial lay-off make a grim prognosis, coach Wayne Bennett conceding "it's probably his season [over]. It's the third time he's done it. "
Sam Burgess, who was dying out last week with a quad strain, pulling up lame in the contest as Canterbury kicked.
"It does not look great," Bennett said of Burgess, who will probably be racing on a six-day turnaround for Anthony Seibold and the Broncos.
Kieran Foran, meanwhile, knows all too well what Burns is facing.
But having finally put his own calf and hamstring issues to bed the big-money half tormented Souths with the salad days at Manly.
Foran's work at the line proved to be a two-tailed one for Corey Harawira-Naera as Canterbury.
For the Rabbitohs, though, the loss drops them out of the top four for the first time this season, at the worst possible time.
Manly's big win over Wests Tigers sees them in the fourth place with just three regular season games, and the second half of the semi-finals cherry evaporating if Souths can not reclaim the ascendancy.
Canterbury well and truly held it, making the most of the running without reward.
Adam Reynolds and Nick Meaney scored twice before half time.
It was Meaney who looked most probably down the Bulldogs' left edge, Dane Gagai once shunning him as the tryline loomed and again batting a blue and white fleet in a hot pursuit.
Another Reynolds penalty goal inched the Rabbitohs ahead after the break, but Foran ensured their advantage lasted all 60 seconds.
His feathered grubber into the in-goal gave Harawira-Naerea first tryscorer honors in the 47th minute.
Reynolds Levelled the scores again after his third goal.
Once more, though, it was Forbidden on a platter in retaliation, piloting Harawira-Naerea from a short range for a 12-6 lead.
Canterbury looked increasingly likely as the game wore, Raymond Faitala-Mariner and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak Lachlan Lewis and Foran guided them around the paddock.
With James Roberts and Gagai.
A strip on Gagai as he looked to burrow over the line gave the Souths a full set of prime real estate, only for Liam Knight to cough up possession one tackle later.
When Will Hopoate shot downfield soon after, Sam Burgess was snipered with a leg injury that would have Souths sweating throughout the week.
So Brisbane has won six of their last seven in returns, so too their worrying form slump that has now seen them on the sidewalk.
And for Canterbury, the chance to rattle another top-eight team's cage, no doubt if they can ruin the old foam Parramatta on Thursday.