On a day when Andy Murray's game stuttered, faltered and failed to find a focus until way too late, the Spanish bull that is Rafael Nadal fixed his sights on Murray's red shirt and charged.
The Scot had his moments but, in truth, the outcome of this US Open semi-final was never in doubt, as Nadal ran out a convincing 6-4 6-2 3-6 6-2 winner.
Murray began the match on Arthur Ashe by relentlessly targeting the Nadal backhand. However, thanks to Uncle Toni's anti-genetic childhood experiment, the Nadal backhand is actually a second forehand. The Scot felt its full force, in an Armada of searing Spanish groundshots and sweet touches around the net.
The first set began with Murray holding back on the aggressive play that had brought him a victory at this stage of the tournament in 2008 against the Spaniard.
But, in truth, the surface is slower this year, and the slick Arthur Ashe court of three years ago was far more suited to the proactive play required to deal with the defending champion and world number two.Read more (522 words)
Early on, Murray hung on to his opening service games by his fingernails, while the Spaniard was holding with aplomb. Nadal injected searing pace into the rallies, corkscrewing 100mph groundshots into oblivion, while the Scot flirted with disaster until he was eventually broken at 3-3.
Throughout the opening stages, Nadal was quicker, brighter, sharper, defter, bigger and deeper. He also had the immeasurable advantage of not persecuting himself with a steady stream of self-directed Scottish invective.
With Self A disagreeing violently and audibly with Self B, Murray conceded the first set 6-4.
As set two opened, Murray, who'd complained of legs 'as hard as bricks', looked as tired as a nappy salesman at a convention of bedwetters. Aiming for the tiny parcel of real estate known as Nadal's backhand, the world number four found his cautious play regularly punished by the blistering pace of the Spaniard's groundshots.
Nadal was pulverising the ball in a way that suggested a deep-seated hatred of green fuzz, and it was no surprise when the Scot was broken at 2-2. At this stage, Murray's running commentary in his dour Scottish brogue made Mark Petchey and Peter Fleming's words on Sky Sports completely redundant.
As Nadal ran away with the second set, with a series of laser forehands, the most optimistic of Murray fans reminded themselves that the human body can do amazing things if willed by the mind. Unfortunately, Murray's mind was saying 'Take a vacation. Tiran Island is great for snorkelling this time of year'.
The third set provided some respite for those who felt that Murray's inner critic not only had his pencil out but was relentlessly jabbing it into his left eye. The Scot broke for 2-0 with some positive body language, but the Spaniard struck back for 2-2 with some colossal down-the-line forehands.
With Nadal serving at 3-4, a piledriving forehand and a breathtaking backhand crosscourt gave Murray a vital break, and he sealed the set with a precision drop shot and some no-holds-barred groundshots.
But it was not to be, and, as the defending champion brutalised his way to the fourth set, you felt he should have been Russian. The perfect product of some Iron Curtain experiment to create a tennis monster, Nadal simply wouldn't lie down.
Murray has firmly established himself as a member of the 'Big Four', an exclusive club that will have garnered 30 grand slam titles by Monday night. Sadly, his contribution to that total is nil.
While it remains so, critics will say his membership is not fully paid up, that he remains the group's d'Artagnan, forever hanging on to the coat-tails of the Three Musketeers who continue to steal the game's major prizes.
It now seems obvious that only a 180-degree switch in Murray's strength-sappingly negative mentality can reverse his fortunes on the game's major stages.
'All for one and one for all' was the motto of the Musketeers. Unfortunately, in tennis, the name of the game is every man for himself. Murray must do whatever is required to ensure his legacy isn't that of the greatest player in history never to win a slam.