Great Britain's hopes of Davis Cup stardom crashed and burned as Leon Smith's team fell to a 2-0 defeat to Serbia in Thursday's quarter-final in Malaga.
GB were on the back foot early doors as Jack Draper fell to a 6-7 6-7 defeat to Miomir Kecmanovic, before world number one Novak Djokovic eased past Cameron Norrie 6-4 6-4 to ensure that the 10-time winners would be kept waiting for their first title since 2015.
Capping off an injury-disrupted year by reaching his first ATP Tour final in Sofia two weeks ago - only to fall short against Adrian Mannarino - Draper quickly deployed his high-risk, high-reward strategy against Kecmanovic, who is only five spots above the Briton in the standings.
While easily outgunning his Serbian foe on the winners count - 29 compared to Kecmanovic's 15 - Draper trebled the world number 55's unforced errors tally with a whopping 48 compared to just 16 for Kecmanovic, who brought up his first two break points in the eighth game but failed to take either of them.
Draper would be forced to beat away another two break opportunities for Kecmanovic while serving to stay in the set, but a pair of double faults in the tie-breaker proved costly for the mistake-strewn Brit.
Neither player managed to fashion a single break point in a neck-and-neck second set, and although Draper fought back to 5-5 from 5-2 down in the tie-breaker, the world number 60 could not complete a terrific turnaround as Kecmanovic put Serbia 1-0 up in the tie.
Confidence ought to have been surging through Serbia's veins as Djokovic - fresh from becoming ATP Finals champion for the seventh time - took to the court for the second singles tie against Norrie, reuniting with the British number one after an ill-tempered Italian Open showdown in May.
The 2010 champions' optimism was well-founded, as Djokovic did not allow Norrie a sniff in the second match of the evening and restricted the former Wimbledon semi-finalist to just 66% of points on his first serves in a domineering display.
Djokovic converted his first break point of the match in the fifth game before ostensibly surging towards the double break as he stormed into a 40-0 lead on Norrie's serve in the seventh, only for the Brit to draw level and save another break point to hold.
Djokovic comfortably served out the first set, though, and he picked up where he left off with an immediate break to love following the restart, before Norrie failed to capitalise on the world number one's first double fault of the night in the second game.
Five chances to break Norrie again for a 4-1 lead passed Djokovic by, but the 36-year-old would not be made to pay for those squandered openings, closing out the contest and sealing his side's place in the semis with back-to-back aces.
Had Djokovic failed to secure a 44th Davis Cup victory over Norrie, the 24-time Grand Slam champion would have been in doubles action with Dusan Lajovic against Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski in a winner-takes-all third match, but that tie was left unplayed with Serbia's success already rubber-stamped.
A semi-final showdown with Italy now awaits Serbia, who will take on either Finland or Australia in the final should they overcome the 1976 winners.