The hiding received by the Chiefs in Christchurch today could haunt them repeatedly over the next few days and possibly longer but on this evidence the nightmare won't be confined to Hamilton and the wider Waikato.
In the minutes before this match the Crusaders were described as a "juggernaut" by Chiefs assistant Tabai Matson and the home side duly proved it by running over the top of a team whose hopes of making the playoffs must now be gone, with four losses in four matches. In scoring nine tries to four, the Crusaders reversed over them again just to make sure.
For the Chiefs and the rest of the competition, this was a truly scary performance from the men in red and black. It was their ninth derby victory in a row, their 19th consecutive win in total and the highest score posted by the Crusaders against the Chiefs.
They are clearly the front-runners to win another title and, with men such as Kieran Read and Sam Whitelock to come back, are only going to improve. All Black hooker Codie Taylor, on at halftime for his first game back, scored two tries in an inspirational performance as if to reinforce the point.
Wing George Bridge was rested for this one but his replacement Sevu Reece, on debut for the Crusaders, was inspired and a threat every time he got the ball. Reece's tackle on Solomon Alaimalo in the second half was truly brutal.
Reece had willing partners in centre Jack Goodhue and fullback Will Jordan, but virtually all the Crusaders ran with intent and intelligence, and after an early wobble when prop Joe Moody left the field with an ankle injury – another problem for an All Black who is sadly used to them these days – the defending champions ran in five first-half tries to lock the door.
Responding to Moody's departure, the Crusaders took the game away from the Chiefs in the second quarter with a blitzkrieg attack; every man playing their role to near perfection.
A monster hiding under the bed? More like a multi-headed hydra from the mists of Greek mythology. Every time the Chiefs made a tackle there was an offload and someone else running at them, or more accurately, into space. Similarly, and this applies to the franchise under Scott Robertson in general, every time there is an injury or a potential setback for the Crusaders, there is someone else to take his place.
Up front, Andrew Makalio, Mike Alaalatoa, Scott Barrett, Billy Harmon and Taylor did the damage and loosehead prop Harry Allen did well to play more than 70 minutes after Moody left the field.
For the Chiefs, halfback Brad Weber never lost his enthusiasm despite the insurmountable odds, with midfielder Anton Lienert-Brown having his moments. Poor Brodie Retallick struggled to get into the game and first-five Damian McKenzie again failed to impose his will on the game.
The Chiefs rallied, almost inevitably, and Crusaders coach Robertson and his assistants will make a point of lingering on the two tries conceded in the final moments, but the visitors will leave Christchurch bloodied and broken and with their season in tatters.
They were taken apart by a champion team playing with rare enthusiasm and ability, and they are unlikely to be the only ones to suffer that fate this season.
"You can't get carried away … but I thought we got the balance right tonight," said skipper Ryan Crotty.
Crusaders 57 (Codie Taylor 2, Will Jordan 2, Braydon Ennor, Sevu Reece, Andrew Makalio, Mike Alaalatoa, Bryn Hall tries; Richie Mo'unga 5 cons, Brett Cameron con.)
Chiefs 28 (Taleni Seu, Etene Nanai-Seturo, Jack Debreczeni, Mitchell Brown tries; Damian McKenzie 3 cons, Debreczeni con.)