Most fans rolling up at the Crown Ground on Saturday would have anticipated an Accrington win.
After all, the Reds were playing some decent stuff, the Robins had been hammered 4-0 on their last visit to the Crown Ground and most felt the Rotherham defeat was unlucky and Stanley would maintain their otherwise solid home form.
But those hopes were dashed as early as the fourth minute as Mark Yates’ side ran the show and Stanley had an off-day they would want to forget.
For some reason, John Coleman’s side were all out-of-sorts as things just didn’t click for them, they never got going and Cheltenham just breezed through the Reds defence as if they weren’t there.
Yates was all smiles after, pleased to avenge that Accrington rout and that his side had moved into seventh come Saturday night.
Stanley meanwhile, who had occupied the play-off spots not so long ago, had suddenly dropped closer to the relegation zone than the top seven.
The Reds did have a spell in the second half and pulled the score back to 2-1 to give some hope that, after squandering 2-0 leads numerous times, they could turn the tables on a side.
But their defence – which Coleman was quick to point out have conceded 11 goals in three home games – collapsed again to gift Cheltenham the three points and the home fans left bemused at a show so unlike the Stanley they are used to watching.
There was certainly a long inquest in the dressing room after the game and boss Coleman, after praising a defence that conceded one goal in the first seven league games, was lost for words as they have now conceded 19 in the following seven league games.
"The best team won," admitted the Reds chief. "Cheltenham made more chances and took more chances than us. We defended as a team absolutely abysmally and I feel sorry for the fans and I apologise.
"They deserve better than that. We can serve up better and I won’t put up with it from some individuals."
What hurt Coleman most was his players’ lack of fight – a usual Stanley team over the last 11 years has battled, scrapped and then been able to produce some class to please the fans. But this time there was little to praise.
Coleman continued: "I don’t think Mark Yates will have believed what he has seen from a team that’s representing Accrington Stanley and representing me and Jimmy Bell.
"That’s not the passion we show, defensively we were all over the place and the goals we conceded were diabolical.
"We have played worse going forward this season but you shouldn’t have to score five to win a game.
"Cheltenham have not see the real Accrington Stanley and that’s something I have got to address. I have got to take reponsibility as I pick the team."
Coleman made just one change from the side who battled to a draw at Hereford, bringing in Sean McConville for the injured Leam Richardson.
It meant keeper Alex Cisak and defender Tom Smyth were making their full league home debuts but none of the Reds side could cover themselves in glory.
And they were stunned immediately when Jeff Goulding split the Reds defence to send Junior Smikle through for the opener on four minutes. Smikle also hit the side netting and headed wide as Cheltenham ran the early show.
Boss Yates admitted they had worked hard on counteracting Stanley’s 4-2-3-1 formation and it worked to perfection when Stanley’s defence again went AWOL and Goulding this time slotted past the Aussie keeper with just 18 minutes gone.
Coleman is not one to pack in and admitted he still felt his team were in it at half-time.
He said: "I said to the lads on the bench that we need to score an early goal if we are going to get anything out of the game as we still harboured hopes that we could win it."
And they did just that when Sean McConville crossed for unmarked Terry Gornell to fire home first time his fifth goal of the season.
That should have been game on but, although Accrington then attacked and pressed, they couldn’t test Scott Brown in the home goal.
And instead dangerman Smikle broke and fed Goulding, who slotted the ball under Cisak for what was a killer third on 74 minutes.
Gornell then missed a gilt-edged chance and Cheltenham grabbed the fourth with Smikle and Goulding setting up Robin Shroot for his first league goal.
The Reds did win a late penalty for a push on McConville and Phil Edwards tucked it home but it was too little too late for a dejected Stanley.
The Reds were missing banned Andy Procter, Jonny Bateson and Ray Putterill but Coleman felt his squad – which he had been pleased with in the first seven games – should be strong enough.
He said: "We have got players out but we won’t be hiding behind that. The players available should be a good match, at home, and we should be able to keep Cheltenham pinned in but we didn’t.
"If someone had said to me after seven games that we have conceded as many goals as we have after 14 I would have laughed," he added.