BRISBANE - Queensland were left to rue the fracture to their famous spine as NSW claimed a much-needed State of Origin upset on Wednesday night.
And that break, through the early loss of halfback Cooper Cronk, has seen the chances of continuing their eight-year streak plummet.
Suffering a broken arm, Cronk was sorely missed in the gripping 12-8 loss at Suncorp Stadium and can't return in time to help rescue the series.
The Melbourne No.7 isn't the most dynamic Maroons star but he's a vital link to the Queensland chain.
Wedged between Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Billy Slater, Cronk has been the glue in the past and the value of his composure and organisation was more apparent when it wasn't there.
Daly Cherry-Evans has been the form halfback of the NRL to loom as an able replacement but he wasn't on the same page as his teammates failing to pull off the clutch plays needed.
Just as Mal Meninga ordered, the Maroons started like a house on fire.
They'd been burnt in the previous two series-openers by a subdued no-mistakes approach but turned up the intensity and dropped the shackles of conservatism.
But once Cronk was replaced in the 10th minute the whole momentum of the battle shifted.