With Kimi Raikkonen's tyres in the dumps, a move from Lewis Hamilton to rain on the Finn's Italian parade looked imminent.
The Englishman crept up slowly on the Ferrari star's rear before making a lighting quick move out of the slipstream to overtake him on the outside of the first chicane with eight laps remaining.
Superior speed saw the four-time champ easily run home to take his fifth win at Monza.
Behind him, Max Verstappen was creating his own chaos.
The 20-year-old Dutchman was pulled up by the stewards for unfair defending, which resulted in a collision with the Mercedes star before the second chicane.
He was slapped with a five-second time penalty for moving in on his braking zone — and he wasn't happy one bit.
"It's (expletive). I gave him space!" a furious Verstappen told the Red Bull garage. "They're doing a great job of killing racing, honestly."
The penalty all but killed his chances of a podium spot as he attempted to defend a potential fourth place finish to Sebastian Vettel.
"I know I'm losing time to Vettel but I really don't care," he told his team.
Some fans thought the stewards were too heavy handed, but most agreed it was yet another case of the fiery youngster losing his cool.
He finished fifth behind Vettel, rounding out an overall disappointing trip to Monza for Red Bull.
Kiwi Brendon Hartley was a victim of contact at the start and had his front right wheel ripped off his Toro Rosso before the first corner of the race. He started 16th and got squeezed between two cars and left with nowhere to go.
HAMILTON EYES TITLE NUMBER FIVE
The victory saw Hamilton take a major step towards a fifth Formula 1 title.
Hamilton made a dive at Vettel on the opening lap and the pair made contact, spinning the Ferrari driver around and dropping him to the back of the field. Stewards reviewed the incident but determined it a racing incident with no penalty handed out.
Pole-sitter Raikkonen led the majority of the race but Hamilton, with fresher tyres, made the crucial pass with eight laps racing to ensure he collect maximum points in his Mercedes.
Hamilton's lead in the championship extended to 30 points with the win.
"Firstly I want to give it up to Ferrari who put up a great challenge this weekend," said Hamilton. "They really did an amazing job and have given us such a tremendous fight."
Hamilton says he was "inspired" by British flags in the crowd and harnessed the negative energy from the partisan crowd to turn the race around.
Raikkonen was disappointed not to be able to hold Hamilton off at the end.
"Disappointing but nothing I could do on those tyres," Raikkonen said.
- Additional reporting by Dale Budge