Hapless Hearts slip up at home
Hearts conceded three goals at home for the second week running as they lost 3-2 to Inverness, who put a serious dent in their top-six ambitions.
The Tynecastle defeat leaves last season's Scottish Cup winners stuck in 10th place, seven points from the upper half of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Terry Butcher's team, however, were able to regain second spot in the standings as they recorded just their second win in eight games.
The home side were undone by a Gary Warren double which came either side of Billy McKay's 22nd strike of the season.
Yet Hearts had twice equalised through Jason Holt and a deflected Andy Webster strike - but both times handed the initiative back to their Highland visitors within minutes.
Those in attendance did not have to wait long for the first flashpoint as Caley Thistle's Warren involved himself in a tussle with Hearts striker Michael Ngoo after just 22 seconds and promptly found himself flat on his back following a two-handed shove.
A booking was Ngoo's punishment for what was in truth a major over-reaction, but it was the visiting defender who came up with a much more meaningful contribution 16 minutes in.
Jambos centre-back Webster was dragged out to the left and in uncomfortable territory, opted to clip the heels of Aaron Doran as the Inverness wide man pushed forward.
From the free-kick, the victim picked out Warren's march into the area and the Englishman headed past stationary Hearts stopper Jamie MacDonald.
The goalkeeper was equally motionless as Caley midfielder Owain Tudur Jones smashed another set-piece through his defensive wall three minutes later. Fortune was on his side this time, though, as the ball flew wide of his right-hand post.
Darren Barr sent an aimless right-footed shot wide of target three minutes from the break as Inverness continued to prove themselves stubborn opponents.
His mood would have darkened further three minutes after the interval when he failed to read the flight of Fraser Mullen's free-kick to the back post just as it looked perfectly set for him to stab home the leveller. The booking he collected for rugby-tackling Andrew Shinnie soon after hardly helped.
Relief, though, did come for Barr and his fellow Jambos on 55 minutes.
Arvydas Novikovas and Barr exchanged passes before the later rolled the ball square for Holt on the edge of the box. After evading Warren's challenge with a shoulder feint, he sent a well-hit shot with his right foot soaring past Ryan Esson in the away goal.
Parity lasted just seven minutes, though, as Inverness struck for a second time.
David Raven launched a free-kick from halfway into the box which Tudur Jones met with a firm header to pick out McKay lurking at the back post. The striker still had to beat Callum Tapping to the ball but found the required yard to nod home.
The hosts, though, responded again - but their second equaliser came with a heavy slice of luck.
First they won a disputed corner which Warren insisted should have been an Inverness goal-kick. It looked as though the visitors would escape unscathed, though, when Ngoo met the set-piece with a tremendous header only to see Nick Ross clear from underneath his own bar.
Hearts, however, remained alert and worked the ball back to Webster on the edge of the box and he volleyed past Esson but only after the ball deflected off Daniel Devine.
Holt came close to another for the Edinburgh outfit as he hit an ambitious volley just over the top of Esson's frame but it was Caley who would strike for the third time.
Hearts let Warren run free again and he headed past MacDonald from Graeme Shinnie's in-swinging corner to edge Inverness above Motherwell and into second place by a point.