St Patrick's Athletic suffered a major dent in their title challenge as they were held to a scoreless draw at Bohemians.
Needing a win to stay on the heels of Shamrock Rovers, Sligo Rovers and Derry City, Pete Mahon's side could only grab a point from Dalymount Park.
Yet even this looked beyond them in a first half which Bohs dominated. Liam Burns had a shot pushed onto the crossbar by Gary Rogers and Anto Flood had a goal disallowed.
Pat's too had their chances - Sean O'Connor striking the bar late on whereas earlier Daryl Kavanagh had a shot saved brilliantly by Barry Murphy.
Yet while it was not a game with much action, the tactical battle was fascinating.
Both teams lined out with an identical 4-4-1-1 formation but it was Bohs who played the smarter football, seamlessly making the necessary adjustments to ensure they had additional numbers in the areas of the park where the ball found itself.
Four men held the key to their strategy - Killian Brennan, who was operating in the split-striker role, Anto Flood, their centre forward and both their full-backs, Ger O'Brien and Ollie Cahill.
While each possessed a positional awareness that allowed them get heavily involved in the key moments of the match, the sureness of their touch and intelligence of their decision making proved equally significant.
O'Brien, in particular, was superb, cantering down the right - providing a direct supply line to Flood, the gangly Bohs striker, whose ability to play a lone striker role is crucial.
Yet having a fluid and effective system is all well and good but goals are the factors that win games - and Bohs simply couldn't get one in an opening half when they were clearly the better team.
Still, they did come close - no one closer than Liam Burns, their big centre half, who ventured forward for a corner and struck the woodwork with a powerful shot that was superbly saved by Gary Rogers.
Superb saves weren't just Rogers' domain, though. Barry Murphy, the Bohs keeper also produced one from Daryl Kavanagh in the seventh minute, diving high to his right to keep the game scoreless.
It was referee, Richie Winter, who ensured the game stayed scoreless when he judged Flood to be offside when he slammed the ball past Rogers in the 18th minute.
From here, the pattern of the game began to gradually change. Bohs would stay on top until half time but Pat's showed a greater resilience to their pressure and by the time the second half began, they were beginning to show their teeth.
And on 66 minutes, they also showed their class - Sean O'Connor striking a powerful free kick that Murphy did well to palm away for a corner.
O'Brien, however, did even better - getting enough of his body in the way to stop O'Connor getting a late winner for St Pat's, as his shot got deflected onto the bar.