It took a team from Britain's oldest town, Camulodunum, to end the triumphant march of the League One upstarts
And then there were two unbeaten clubs in League One. Stevenage, the third on Saturday morning, had their run ended at the Community Stadium, where Colchester United beat them 1-0. But they retain second place in the table, now seven points behind Tranmere, as neither Sheffield United nor Swindon won at home.
Gary Smith, Stevenage manager since late January, blamed the referee, Graham Salisbury, more than his players. Anthony Grant was sent off in the 53rd minute for bringing down Sanchez Watt in full flight. As Smith prepared to replace Greg Tansey with the more defensive midfielder Oliver Risser, Watt raced down the left again two minutes later and surprised Steve Arnold with an early shot rather than later cross.
Stevenage had late chances to save a league record that, with six games from last season, stretched to 17 unbeaten but Risser headed Luke Freeman's free-kick wide and Bondz N'Gala's overhead in an added-time scrimmage hit the bar. Against that Arnold, lately preferred to the veteran Chris Day, had excelled with half a dozen point-blank parries. Smith's fury had no basis in the cold light of reason and statistics. Stevenage had two shots on target. Perhaps he had forgotten how to lose.
"We would certainly have got something with 11 men on the field," he said. "Practically everything we contested the referee stuck a card on us. We definitely got a raw deal. Anthony didn't warrant a second yellow; I'm not even sure about the first. On the other hand it's down to professionals not to get sent off."
Grant was one of three Stevenage men booked for late challenges in the first 18 minutes. Smith's predecessor, Graham Westley, favoured tall, prickly poppies. This lot were spiky as thistles until they settled to the football that has taken them to where they are.
Stevenage were sixth when Westley, who drove them non-stop through League Two from Blue Square comfort, left for Preston. Smith said then: "This team is on such a good run there isn't an awful lot I want to change about the group." Having kept them sixth into play-off disappointment, he oversaw 16 ins and 16 outs in the summer. Their play has a purer stamp. Apart from Day only Jon Ashton, currently injured, and Mark Roberts, the centre-backs, remain from their double promotion winners.
Smith, at 42, slipped into his first English managerial post almost unnoticed, having taken Colorado Rapids to their first MLS Cup in 2010. His playing career, including a spell with Colchester, was cut short by injury. This was his first match at the ground, opened in 2008 on the outskirts of Britain's oldest town and possibly lowered into place under cover of night. Cuckoo Farm Studios are across the road.
Joe Dunne, 39 and his opposite number, is even newer to the managerial game but after two longer playing spells at Layer Road enjoys legendary local status. He has brought in his Irish compatriot Mark Kinsella, another former Colchester player, as assistant and recorded a third win in his four league games after John Ward managed none in eight.
Neither club pulls great crowds from populations around 100,000, though 716 away travellers raised Colchester's average to 3,602. Stevenage's 2,697 is the lowest in League One. But the club are not resting on recent laurels. In a few weeks a 42-acre training complex opens at nearby Bragbury End and Smith has called in Nigel Winterburn to polish the defence as Arsenal's of old. Ahead of them James Dunne led the strivers of middle Stevenage with vision.
"We'll just have to go on another run," said Smith eventually. They can start it at MK Dons on Saturday in a new-town showdown, second against seventh. Crawley lie between them in fourth. They, too, failed to beat Colchester. These upstarts bring out the Roman in Camulodunum.