Melbourne has handed Manly a finals lesson in a performance that will terrify the rest of the competition.
There were rumblings before the game the Storm were coming off the boil at the wrong time of year — but the 40-12 hammering of the Sea Eagles on the Sunshine Coast on Friday night has made a mockery of that conversation.
It was a statement win by the Storm — and a reality check for Manly.
Phil Gould described it as a "finals lesson" for Manly.
He also described Melbourne's defensive performance as a "masterclass of defensive coaching" after Craig Bellamy's defensive wall was able to take the best player in the competition — Tom Trbojevic — out of the game.
"The way they marshalled the Manly attack and took Tom Trbojevic totally out of the game was a master class in defensive coaching and that's where they won it tonight." Gould said.
"Forget the 40 points that came out because Manly's defence is nowhere near as good and Melbourne were confident in what they were doing but it was the way they dismantled Manly's confidence."
Andrew Johns called it an "incredible" performance, while NRLW star Alanna Ferguson described the Storm as "ruthless".
The only concern for the Storm was star hooker Brandon Smith failing a HIA test after leaving the field with a swollen eye socket, ruling him out for the rest of the game.
Storm coach Craig Bellamy said in his post-match press conference Smith "might have a facial fracture" — an injury that would rule him out for the rest of the season.
Johns was also scathing of Manly's performance.
"Manly beat themselves tonight. Stupid errors, poor discipline," he said.
They were simply strangled into submission and started to break apart as a result of the Storm's pressure.
It was a first half blitzkrieg that did the damage early and the Sea Sea Eagles never really looked like they were in the contest.
They're backs had been broken after just 13 minutes when the Storm raced to a 16-0 lead
Manly wrestled their way back into the contest and finally got on the board through Jason Saab in the 30th minute.
However, Melbourne all-but shut the door on the stunned Sea Eagles with a late try to Ryan Papenhuyzen.
The Storm led 24-6 at half time.
The scintillating first half showed a very different team to the one that suffered a shock loss to Parramatta two weeks ago. This team is anything but out of form.
Manly's only highlight came early in the second half when a surprise down-field kick caught the Storm napping.
The Sea Eagles had struggled to crack the Storm all night, and it took a bizarre kick from a 20m re-start to give the Sea Eagles their second try of the night.
The 50th minute try was the result of Isaac Lumelume dropping his bundle as he sprinted backwards to dive on a loose ball just 20m out from his own try line following a monster kick from Reuben Garrick.
Lumelume accidentally hit the Steeden back towards his own line when a cruel bounce saw the ball escape his clutches as he dived forwards.
Saab showed incredible speed to win the race to the ball and scored his second try of the night.
However, a penalty goal to Ryan Papenhuyzen in the 60th minute took the wind out of Manly's sails.
A late try to Justin Olam and a two-point field goal to Papenhuyzen made it 40-12.
Papenhuyzen ended up out-scoring Manly by himself with 16 points, including two tries.