The Brumbies kept their faint Super 14 hopes alive with record 52-13 victory over the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.
The all-Australian derby produced some wonderful tries - there were nine in all - but order seemed to come from chaos: muddled thinking, spills, lucky bounces and disjointed defence preceding most of the telling moments.
Indeed, onlooking Australia coach Robbie Deans is sure to depart Queensland with a well-scratched head. Has it got superstar attackers on his hands, or terrible defenders?
It was a woeful day in the office for Reds. They were left reeling by the eleventh hour withdrawal of their playmaker-in-chief, Berrick Barnes, and they never regained their feet.
Out of play-off contention, the locals chose a buccaneering approach, but their adventure was not rewarded. In fact, their gung-ho approach actually played to the predatory strengths of the men from the capital.
Without Barnes, the Reds lacked the tactical nous to make the most of their opportunities while they also lacked the urgency and intensity of the previous week's upset of the Blues.
But credit to the Brumbies. It was a startling turnaround, coming as it did just a week since they were smashed 56-7 by the Hurricanes in their worst-ever performance.
Tries from Gene Fairbanks, Stephen Hoiles and Peter Kimlin gave the visitors a 16-point lead at the break and they held off a brief second-half fightback to finish with a flourish and end the game with seven tries.
Stirling Mortlock's recent shift to the wing may have been criticised by some pundits, but the Wallabies skipper proved as damaging as ever, linking up smoothly with Adam Ashley-Cooper.
Mortlock was also faultless with the boot, converting all seven of his side's tries in a display that would have brought a smile to the face of Australia coach Robbie Deans watching on.
On top of the dispiriting loss, the Reds also now have injuries to Barnes, who pulled up with a groin problem prior to the match, captain James Horwill (foot), Will Genia (ribs) and Digby Ioane to contend with.
The Reds started the match with a point to prove, having only taken the points once in 14 Super 14 clashes against the Brumbies, and Sean Hardman was playing a record 135th game.
The Reds began brightly, opening the scoring via a penalty goal from Quade Cooper, handed the kicking duty in the absence of Barnes, but things quickly started to go awry.
A surging Brumbies side was dominating both field position and possession and the scrambling hosts eventually conceded in the 24th minute.
Fairbanks had three spare unmarked team-mates on his outside before diving over the line and that proved a sign of things to come.
The Brumbies soon skipped clear to a 24-3 lead, but a fightback looked like it might be on the cards for the hosts when Genia ran in consecutive tries either side of half-time.
Genia's double saw the visitors' lead cut to 11 points, but any thoughts of a comeback were put to bed by an excellent try from Brumbies prop Ben Alexander.
Alexander took the ball 10 metres away from the line and with the assistance of Mitchell Chapman's driving force, proceeded to charge over, resisting the efforts of a handful of Reds tackles.
The hosts battled hard in search of a bonus-point try and looked likely at different times in a far more even second-half, but ultimately skill errors and an inability to hold onto possession proved costly.
The Brumbies on the other hand put on a clinical display of rugby, Hoiles grabbing a double while Ashley-Cooper and Francis Fainifo joined in on the try-fest as the home side was embarrassed towards the end of the match.
The Brumbies face a must-win match against the Blues in Canberra next week, while the Reds face a tough assignment and playing for pride against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Tries: Genia 2
Tries: Fairbanks, Hoiles 2, Kimlin, Alexander, Ashley-Cooper, Fainifo
Cons: Mortlock 7
Reds: 15 Mark McLinden, 14 Peter Hynes, 13 Digby Ioane, 12 Charlie Fetoai, 11 Brando Va'aulu, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ezra Taylor, 7 Poutasi Luafutu, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Van Humphries, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Jack Kennedy, 18 Adam Byrnes, 19 Leroy Houston, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Anthony Faingaa.
Brumbies: 15 Mark Gerrard, 14 Stirling Mortlock, 13 Tyrone Smith, 12 Gene Fairbanks, 11 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 10 Matt Toomua, 9 Patrick Phibbs, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Mitchell Chapman, 5 Peter Kimlin, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander.
Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Nic Henderson, 18 Sitaleki Timani, 19 Henry Vanderglas, 20 Joshua Holmes, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 Francis Fainifo.
Referee: Ian Smith (Australia)
Touch judges: Matt Goddard (Australia), Andrew Lees (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)