JUST for one dizzy moment, it seemed that Accrington Stanley could stage the comeback of the season - or even the decade.
After being thumped 4-0 at half-time by rampant Posh, two quick fire goals from Paul Mullin and Shaun Whalley gave the 41 travelling fans a glimmer of hope that they could watch more drama unfold before their eyes - and it might go the Reds’ way.
And it seemed on the cards when Roscoe Dsane broke through on 74 minutes and fired a strike which squirmed under £400,000 record keeper Joe Lewis’s body.
However the one-time Reds target somehow batted the ball out with his hand to deny Dsane a goal.
4-3 and who knows - especially with an edgy crowd at London Road following a string of indifferent results for the big-spending Posh?
But Darren Ferguson’s men then went straight down the other end and added the fifth and then ripped the the deflated Reds apart to give boss John Coleman the worst defeat of his management career.
In truth, it had all gone wrong in the 39 first half minutes where Peterborough ran Stanley ragged - and destroyed a flimsy defence.
They could not cope with highly-rated winger George Boyd and strikers Craig Mackail-Smith and another former Stanley target Aaron McLean with them all having a point to prove after a poor show by Peterborough against Macclesfield on Saturday.
They outwitted a static backline which led to Mark Roberts being brought off on the half-hour mark - but it didn’t make any difference as Stanley just couldn’t cope with the prolific strike force.
The trio have now scored 48 goals between them - Stanley’s entire squad have scored 35 goals this season in all games.
Coleman took all the blame for the embarrassing defeat - not Stanley’s worst (that was a 12-2 loss by Aston Villa in 1892) but still a hard one to get his head round.
"I have had some good nights and some bad nights and this isn’t the worst I have felt," said the Reds’ chief after the game.
"I know we didn’t defend well but Peterborough are the type of side that, when they get their tails up, their movement they have got from their three forwards makes them a handful for anyone. They must cost the best part of £600-700,000.
"I am disappointed but pleased with the response we showed in the second half to come back to 4-2.
"And then their keeper has made a world class save and, at 4-3, we could be sat having a different press conference.
"At 4-3, that would have planted the seed of doubt but give them their due, they have scored some good goals and you cannot knock it - their forward play was exceptional."
He continued: "I do not want to criticise individuals and you have got to take it on the chin that we have conceded eight goals.
"I think when Roscoe’s chance went and the fifth goal went in, then you realise it was a step too far and we never recovered. We were given a lesson in finishing and we have got to learn from it.
"I will take full responsibility for conceding eight. I pick the players, I coach them and so I have got to take the responsibility."
The Reds have been prone to conceding early goals of late and it was no different at London Road.
Within 11 minutes, a long ball over the top caught out Mark Roberts and Craig Mackail-Smith pounced, took the ball past the outrushing Ian Dunbavin and fired the ball home from a tight angle.
And the ex-Conference hitman should have doubled his tally a minute later but dragged his effort across the goal.
Stanley’s backline was in disarray and the second came on 27 minutes when Mackail-Smith broke through, his shot was parried out by Dunbavin but it fell to ex-Stevenage winger Boyd for an easy tap-in.
Stanley winger Billy Dennehy headed a Mackail-Smith effort off the line four minutes later but number three followed soon after when right winger Chris Whelpdale found Boyd who took the ball down and volleyed it home for a superb goal.
Roberts, with a bleeding eye, came off and Coleman put on Robbie Williams to try and contain on the lively Mackail-Smith.
The Reds were reeling but the ever-battling Paul Mullin did seem to have pulled one back on 36 minutes. As the rain came down, he crossed the ball at the by-line but ended up going off the pitch with the momentum on the slippy surface.
The striker recovered and the ball was cleared back to him and he slotted it home - but because he had gone off the pitch the ‘goal’ wasn’t allowed to stand.
And normal service soon resumed when a through ball outwitted defender Sean Webb and the strong Aaron McLean hustled off substitute Williams and side-footed home from the edge of the area.
No one would have fancied Coleman’s job at half-time as he tried to rally his dejected troops - but he managed it.
Within seconds, Craney squared for Mullin and he threw himself at the ball and it was an easy 12th goal of the season for the striker as a fightback began.
There was a scare but Dunbavin kept out McLean to keep Stanley with a small hope. And then a Craney ball in was bundled into the net by sub Whalley for his first league goal of the season on 62 minutes and the Reds fans got a bit of belief.
The home support were getting restless after their recent indifferent form which has seen Posh’s automatic promotion push stutter.
And it seemed it might just be turning Stanley’s way when Williams pulled off a superb challenge to stop a certain Whelpdale goal.
But then Lewis showed why Posh forked out a record fee for him by keeping out Dsane and it all went wrong with four goals in the final 14 minutes.
A goalkick was flicked on and Boyd got the ball, took it down and finished well to make it 5-2 to complete his hat-trick and knock the stuffing out of Stanley on 76 minutes.
Two minutes later and Boyd’s shot wasn’t cleared and it fell for McLean to score an easy goal.The former Grays man - who has a habit of scoring against the Reds- celebrated his hat-trick soon after when he got on the end of a good right wing cross by Adam Newton.
And, just to complete the misery, number eight came at the death when McLean set up Mackail-Smith for his second of an exhausting game for the Reds. It was a relief when the final whistle went.
"There was a 30 minute spell after the break where we more than competed with Peterborough and had them on the rack," added Coleman.
"Then they got the fifth, we capitulated and they got their tails up. You don’t expect to score two goals away from home and lose - but you don’t expect to concede eight goals."