Kilmarnock skipper Gary Hay had no idea his side were in the top six of the Premier League until Rory Boulding's late winner for Dundee United.
The Rugby Park side hosted the Arabs' city rivals Dundee yesterday knowing a victory would guarantee them a place in the upper half of the table.
But another of Hay's former Killie colleagues Gary Harkins returned to his old stomping ground to score twice and consign the hosts to a 2-1 defeat.
However, with United and Aberdeen looking set for a stalemate and Hibernian pushed aside by SPL leaders Celtic, Killie were all set to qualify for the top six on goal difference.
Boulding's late intervention, though, was enough to see Jackie McNamara's side pinch Killie's slot in sixth-place.
As if that was not bad enough, Hay revealed it was only after the final whistle the devastating news was broken to him that Kilmarnock were clinging on to their coveted position until United's 93rd-minute winner.
He told Press Association Sport: "It's hard to have fallen at the last hurdle. We thought we needed the draw to clinch a top-six place but I've just heard we were sneaking in on goal difference before United scored, so that makes it even more gutting.
"We never gave ourselves a proper chance and didn't play well enough.
"It's ironic that we have been done in by two former team-mates.
"Scotland is a small fish bowl and that type of thing can happen. Players move on and now Gary has come back to haunt us, while Rory has scored the winner for United as well."
Harkins - who netted after just six minutes before adding a second just moments after Kris Boyd's 73rd-minute equaliser - admitted he took satisfaction after saving his side from relegation at a ground where he spent most of his final few months watching from the stands.
Dundee would have been demoted back to the Irn-Bru First Division after just a season in the top flight had they lost yesterday.
But Harkins proved Killie boss Kenny Shiels had been wrong to drop him from his side before eventually sanctioning his January move to Dens Park with a deadly double.
He said: "I enjoyed it to be honest but I feel for the Killie players. They have worked hard all season under difficult circumstances.
"But in football you need to put friendships aside. I did that and scored two goals. I knew I was good enough to play at Rugby Park and I hoped I proved that.
"You have situations in any job where you don't get on with the boss but I moved club and got on with things.
"Maybe Kenny will go home and look at things differently. I didn't have a point to prove as the players at Killie knew I should have played and they will tell you that if you ask them. I went through a year and half of being brought off every week no matter how I was playing.
"But you couldn't legislate for both myself and Rory coming back to the club and haunting them.
"It would have been horrible if we were to relegated at my old ground so I'm delighted and now we need to try and win every game we have left."