Serbia brought 10-man Germany crashing back down to earth with a narrow win in Port Elizabeth that blows qualification from Group D wide open.
An opening-game rout of Australia had German fans and critics predicting a run deep into the World Cup tournament, with national newspaper Bild declaring: "We're going to blow you all away".
But Serbia were always likely to prove a different proposition to a weak Australia side forced to play more than half an hour a man down, and after frontman Miroslav Klose had been harshly dismissed for two bookings in the first half, Germany failed to rally sufficiently to force an equaliser against Radomir Antic's stubborn side.
Liverpool-bound Milan Jovanovic proved the match-winner with a 35th-minute volley, but in truth the result was as much down to the Germans' poor finishing - not least from Lukas Podolski who missed a penalty amid a hatful of chances.
And referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco of Spain played no small part in influencing proceedings with a series of baffling decisions and yellow cards.
It means Germany, Serbia and Ghana all stand on three points ahead of the Africans' second group match against the Aussies on Saturday.
Germany, though, will feel aggrieved at a result that almost entirely centred around Klose's dismissal.
For the first half hour before that, in the face of a Serbian defence far more disciplined than the Australian backline had been on Sunday, Germany were patient and measured in attack, Podolski flashing a volley narrowly wide and playmaker Mesut Ozil again impressing.
But just a minute after referee Mallenco brandished a second yellow card to Klose - both for innocuous trips - Serbia grabbed what proved to be their winner.
The lively Milan Krasic produced a fine cross from the right that was nodded down by Birmingham City new-boy Nikola Zigic and slammed home from close range by Jovanovic.
Thereafter, with Serbia dropping deeper and deeper despite their numerical advantage, Germany controlled possession and had a series of chances to level the scores.
Sami Khedira slammed a vicious shot against the bar 16 yards out, while Podolski wasted two glorious passes from Ozil when he clipped the first wide and the second into the side-netting.
Neither chance was as good as the next, though, when he saw his tame penalty saved by Serbia keeper Vladimir Stojkovic after Nemanja Vidic's inexplicable handball in the box.
It was only Germany's second penalty miss in a World Cup outside of a shoot-out, their first by Uli Hoeness in 1974, and it proved crucial.
Playing on the counter, Serbia - much improved from a display against Ghana that did the talent in their side no justice - twice hit the woodwork, with Jankovic curling left-footed on to the foot of Manuel Neuer's post and Zigic heading on to the bar from another Krasic cross.
Unlike Germany, though, they were not made to rue their profligacy, seeing out a win that gives Antic's side a real chance of reaching the second round.
As for Joachim Loew's side, their first World Cup group-stage defeat since 1986 means only a victory over Ghana next Wednesday will guarantee them a place in the last 16.
Attempts on target
Attempts off target
Projected table based on current scores
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