Melbourne Victory's chances of joining Sydney FC in the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League will come down to the wire.
A 3-1 loss to cashed-up Chinese Super League side Shanghai SIPG on Tuesday night makes their final match with Japan's Gamba Osaka on May 3 a do-or-die affair.
Kevin Muscat's side are yet to reach the last 16 of the Asian continental competition in four attempts.
Neither had Sydney FC until Tuesday night.
Ironically, good news for one of Victory's arch-rivals came through as they were playing, even though Sydney FC were on a night off.
In South Korea, China's Guangzhou Evergrande's defeat of Pohang Steelers left both sides incapable of matching the Sky Blues' points tally.
Sydney's task will now be to seal top spot by defeating Urawa Red Diamonds on Wednesday night in Sydney.
For Victory, the visit of Gamba will either make history or end their season.
Victory suffered their 3-1 defeat in Shanghai just four days after being knocked out of the A-League finals with a last-gasp 2-1 loss to Brisbane Roar.
Yu Hai, Elkeson and Dario Conca goals - all involving star Chinese winger Wu Lei - came before Jesse Makarounas' late consolation goal.
Despite the scoreline, Muscat said his side weren't dominated.
"Although the score suggests we were outplayed tonight I don't think that was the case," he said.
"We had a number of good chances at 0-0. Very good chances.
"Then to concede off a free kick and make a mistake directly after ... it gave us a mountain to climb."
Victory had more than 60 per cent of possession against Sven Goran Eriksson's side, had more shots and hit the woodwork through Kosta Barbarouses.
Coming so soon after their A-League disappointment, goalscorer Makarounas said Victory fell short of their own expectations.
"We expected to get a good result and we needed to," he told Fox Sports.
"We're really disappointed with the way things went today.
"We're second in the group and need a get a good result against (Gamba) to keep our place in the top two."