A hat-trick of defensive errors cost Tranmere dearly as they sunk deeper into trouble in League Two with a 4-1 hammering at the hands of Burton.
On three occasions, visiting attackers were given space in the penalty area as they were left unmarked, and each time they made Rovers pay.
And that left the hosts counting the cost of an eighth home league defeat of the season that sees them stay out of the bottom two only due to Cheltenham’s failure to win against Exeter.
Tranmere, looking to make it back-to-back league wins for only the third time since January 2013, made three changes.
Dan Gardner, Josh Thompson and Steven Jennings were all ruled out, so Rory Donnelly, Adam Dugdale and Jordan Hugill returned.
Perhaps most startling though was the substitutes bench.
Decimated by injuries, Micky Adams was forced to include two second year scholars – Ben Jago and Evan Gumbs, as well as first year professional Liam Davies, who has been out injured for a year.
The game started brightly, with Burton having two glorious early chances.
Firstly, John Mousinho headed wide when unmarked from a corner before a wonderful counter attack cut through the Rovers backline and gave Tom Naylor a shooting opportunity.
However, put through one-on-one with Owain Fon Williams, he could not quite guide his effort near enough to the corner, and the ‘keeper did well to get down and save.
At the other end, Dugdale was unlucky when he glanced a header just over the bar after getting on the end of a whipped Jennison Myrie-Williams free-kick.
With the next chance, the league leaders struck to make it 1-0 with another well crafted attack.
Akins had the ball on the right, and within three of four passes, Tranmere were in real trouble as possession was worked across to an unmarked Damien McCrory.
He picked it up on the left corner of the box and had plenty of time and space to smash a well placed shot across Fon Williams and in at the far post.
If that was not bad enough for Rovers, things got worse just four minutes later when the hosts made it 2-0.
This time, a long ball undid the backline, who had again left a man unmarked.
It was Lucas Akins who profited on this occasion, and after seeing his first shot brilliantly saved at point blank range, he fired home the rebound.
For the next ten minutes, the game settled down. Burton very much had the upper hand and looked as if they were not going to be troubled all afternoon.
What they had not banked on though was a sensational strike from Kayode Odejayi dragging the hosts back into the game.
The target man controlled the ball with his chest when 25-yards from goal before unleashing a stunning volley that flew into the top corner, leaving Jon McLaughlin flat-footed.
It was the type of strike that gives every one a lift, and indeed the atmosphere went up a notch in the immediate five minutes afterwards.
They created just one further chance before the break though as Hugill headed wide.
Micky Adams changed things around for the second period, with Lee Molyneux replacing Hugill, allowing Rory Donnelly to be pushed up into his more familiar centre-forward role.
And they started the second half brightly, albeit without creating many opportunities.
That meant any chances that did come Rovers’ way had to be taken, and they were gifted an opening just short of the hour mark from the penalty spot.
Donnelly swung in a deep cross from the right to Odejayi and the striker was hauled down in the area.
A foul was awarded, giving Max Power the chance to level things.
However, Tranmere’s top scorer could not convert, as his low effort, guided towards the corner, was really well saved by McLaughin, who dived to his left to keep the ball out.
Despite the miss, Rovers were on top in the second half and with Odejayi creating all sorts of problems for the Burton centre-backs, they looked like a team capable of finding an equaliser.
Michael Ihiekwe had one shot, though the ball came too him off balance after a corner was not cleared, and he shot over.
Then Molyneux had a pop from a 35-yard free-kick, and although the effort was spilled, it lacked power and should have been a more comfortable save.
However, with little under 20 minutes left, the hosts were hit with a sucker punch as Burton restored their two-goal advantage.
Again, questions will be asked about where Tranmere’s defence was as two men were left unmarked in the box.
McCrory fired in a powerful cross to Akins who chested down to Abdenasser El Khayati, and, with all the time in the world, the striker converted from 10 yards out.
That put Burton on easy street and they made it 4-1 on 90 minutes when Dugdale put Akins’ cross into his own goal.