The early-season optimism at Kaizer Chiefs took another blow as the Glamour Boys were beaten 4-1 by PSL newcomers Royal AM at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
Victor Letsoalo had put the visiting side 2-0 ahead with a brace, before Sifiso Hlanti pulled one back for the hosts, only for a Sibusiso Mabiliso own goal to end any hopes of a comeback. Mfundo Thikazi then added salt to the wounds with a beautifully taken 94th-minute strike.
Royal AM were to sound an early statement of intent when Letsoalo struck the upright in the third minute, having found the space in the box to bring down a pass on his chest before firing in a volley.
Chiefs were to see plenty of the ball and they had the chance to turn that advantage into a goal in the 14th minute when Cole Alexander played a neat one-two with Khama Billiat before bursting in on goal, but his left-footed angled finish went just wide of the far post.
There was another good opportunity for the visitors in the 27th minute when Levy Mashiane raced onto a long ball, beating the off-side trap. But he took too long to get the shot away and the Chiefs defence was able to recover as Erick Mathoho and Njabulo Blom got back to win the ball.
While the KwaZulu-Natal side did enjoy a few opportunities, when they scored in the 34th minute it was against the run of play.
It was down to a brilliant cross from Mashiane, whose whipped ball from the right flank was guided home emphatically by the head of Bafana Bafana striker Letsoalo.
The goal lifted Royal AM and they were comfortably in command as the game went into the half-time break.
The hosts upped the ante after the restart, but when chances came for Keagan Dolly and Alexander, both fired straight at goalkeeper Hugo Nyame.
Amakhosi were also denied what looked like a good call for a 53rd-minute penalty after Royal AM captain Lesego Manganyi appeared to have kicked Billiat rather than the ball, in the box.
Having survived the Chiefs threat, the KZN side could have added a second goal when Tebogo Pontsane sprinted in on goal, following Letsoala's assist, but the former Bloemfontein Celtic man shot straight at goalkeeper Brandon Petersen.
They didn't have to wait too long for the goal to arrive as Letsoalo curled in a sublime free-kick to double the lead on 65 minutes.
Chiefs were given hope in the 74th minute when finally luck went their way as Sifiso Hlanti's free-kick took a sizable deflection off the wall to wrong-foot Nyambe and hit the back of the net.
That hope evaporated just a minute later though when substitute Sibusiso Mabiliso deflected Zukile Mkhize's low cross past Petersen and into his own net.
With five minutes to go, Anthony Agay passed up on a great chance for the hosts to try and claw themselves back when he headed wide with the goal at his mercy from a Billiat corner.
That proved to be the last chance for Chiefs, who were then punished with the last move of the game, when following a swift counter, Thikazi beat Petersen with a lovely curling shot.