Recent champions the Chiefs were outstanding as they dispatched the Crusaders 40-16 with a high-energy demolition at home.
A flat performance from the Crusaders will have left Todd Blackadder feeling bitterly disappointed, with last year's finalists capable of much more than they produced in Hamilton.
No love was lost between these two New Zealand giants as tempers seemingly always threatened to spill over in a physical affair.
Moments of class though weren't in short supply with the Chiefs looking back to their championship intensity of 2012 and 2013, additionally winning an impressive 17/17 lineouts.
The Crusaders just couldn't handle their intensity and were physically outmatched from start to finish.
Rugby's flavour-of-the-month disciplinary issue, the tackle in the air, reared it's head three times in the first half alone.
James Lowe and Matt Todd both saw yellow for their indiscretions, Todd's offence coming straight after Lowe had returned to the field from his stint in the sin-bin.
Thankfully the quality of the game comfortably overshadowed those moments of indiscipline, as the Chiefs grew in confidence and ended with a try bonus point in a very impressive outing.
Even losing Brodie Retallick very early on to injury wasn't enough to disrupt the Chiefs as they finished with five tries – with Hika Elliott, Sam Cane and Aaron Cruden all shining.
Colin Slade opened the scoring with two straight penalties before Lowe departed for his careless charge under the legs of Scott Barrett.
Despite being down to 14 men though the Chiefs grabbed the first try. Charlie Ngatai's clever offload kept an attack alive before Sonny Bill Williams reached out to score having spun his way out from the back of a ruck near the Crusaders' line with a skillful finish.
Cruden missed the conversion and then a penalty after a monster scrum from his pack, but the momentum continued to run the Chiefs' way following Todd's yellow card.
A great carry from Lowe, looking for redemption, set the Chiefs up near the posts and Augustine Pulu's dart gave the hosts a second try.
Slade and Cruden traded penalties before the Chiefs produced a supreme score, all starting from Tom Marshall's low kick upfield.
The chasers swarmed the breakdown to turn over possession before Sam Cane threw out a diamond pass to Williams, creating an easy run-in for Charlie Ngatai. Cruden converted to give the Chiefs a 22-9 half-time lead.
The Crusaders desperately needed a spark and Andy Ellis was the provider after the break. The experienced number nine came off the bench for the injured Mitchell Drummond and burrowed his way over from close-range to give the visitors a lifeline.
Two Cruden penalties opened up the gap to 28-16 before the Chiefs stepped on the gas, Marshall securing the bonus point try in the far corner as the Crusaders paid the price for playing too much rugby in their 22 by being turned over.
A turnover score sent Lowe off to the races for try number five, Cruden's conversion bringing up the 40-point mark.
Young replacement Damian McKenzie came on and then swiftly departed after being shown a yellow card for a tip tackle as the Chiefs hunted down try number six with time running out.
It wasn't to be, but the Chiefs had already put this one away by a record margin against their New Zealand rivals, sending the Crusaders into their bye week with plenty of questions and licking their wounds.
Tries: Williams, Pulu, Ngatai, Marshall, Lowe
Cons: Cruden 3
Pens: Cruden 3
Yellow Cards: Lowe, McKenzie
Pens: Slade 3
Yellow Card: Todd
Chiefs: 15 Tom Marshall, 14 Bryce Heem, 13 Charlie Ngatai, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 James Lowe, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Augustine Pulu, 8 Liam Messam (c) 7 Sam Cane, 6 Michael Fitzgerald, 5 Brodie Retallick, 4 Matt Symons, 3 Ben Tameifuna, 2 Hika Elliot, 1 Pauliasi Manu.
Replacements: 16 Quentin MacDonald, 17 Siate Tokolahi, 18 Mitchell Graham, 19 Johan Bardoul, 20 Sean Polwart, 21 Brad Weber, 22 Damian McKenzie, 23 Seta Tamanivalu.
Crusaders: 15 Tom Taylor, 14 Robbie Fruean, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Ryan Crotty, 11 Johnny McNicholl, 10 Colin Slade, 9 Mitchell Drummond, 8 Jordan Taufua, 7 Matt Todd (c), 6 Richie McCaw, 5 Scott Barrett, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Nepo Laulala, 2 Ben Funnell, 1 Wyatt Crockett.
Replacements: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Joe Moody, 18 Alex Hodgman, 19 Jimmy Tupou, 20 Luke Whitelock, 21 Andy Ellis, 22 Nathaniel Apa, 23 Nafi Tuitavake.
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant (New Zealand), Shane McDermott (New Zealand)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)