Zenit St Petersburg was left ruing its luck as it suffered a home UEFA Champions League defeat against AC Milan to further deepen the woes that have engulfed the club.
The Russian champion has been thrust into chaos after player divisions that have been played out in public after the big-money arrivals of Hulk and Axel Witsel last month.
That has culminated in Zenit winning just one of its past five league games and seen captain Igor Denisov exiled for his claims the new signings are over-paid compared to their colleagues.
Milan itself arrived in Russia under pressure, sitting 11th in Serie A, but left celebrating its first Champions League win of the campaign after surviving a brave Zenit comeback.
Goals from Urby Emanuelson, after a wicked deflection, and Stephan El Shaarawi inside the opening 16 minutes fired the visitor ahead but Zenit replied in the minutes either side of half-time through Hulk and Roman Shirokov.
But the luckless host fell behind for good 15 minutes from the end when again a deflection cost it as Tomas Hubocan inadvertently turned the ball into his own net.
There was still time for Zenit to attempt another rally but Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati, who pulled off a string of stunning saves throughout, somehow turned away a late Aleksandr Anyukov strike.
The burden of pressure on Zenit before kick-off was quickly intensified when it fell 2-0 behind.
With Milan's own form under the microscope it came out firing and while the opener on 13 minutes owed to some fortune, when Emanuelson saw his free-kick take a deflection off the wall to wrong-foot Viacheslav Malafeev, the lead was hardly unwarranted.
The second arrived just three minutes later via a splendid El Shaarawi run and finish, the midfielder leaving at least three Zenit players standing in his wake.
Zenit, however, proved its resilience - questioned at times in the difficult recent past - as it peppered Abbiati in the away goal for the remainder of the half.
Hulk led the assault as first his stinging drive forced a fine diving fingertip save from Abbiati.
The veteran goalkeeper then moved quickly to catch a Shirokov header, from a corner delivered by Hulk, who then blasted a low free-kick that drew the best stop of the half from Abbiati.
Hulk finally broke through with the last kick of the first period when Shirokov played him in behind the defence and his angled drive squirmed under Abbiati's outstretched arm.
It loomed as a pivotal moment as Zenit equalised within minutes of the resumption.
This time it was Hulk who turned provider with his corner finding Shirokov unmarked at the back post to head past Abbiati.
Suddenly Milan's recent failings were under examination and it responded with a fluid forward move that ended with Kevin-Prince Boateng wastefully heading wide across goal.
The game brimmed to the boil, with both teams desperate to claim a win to at least exile some of their recent woes, and it was the visitor which got the decisive goal.
Giampaolo Pazzini only got the barest of touches on Riccardo Montolivo's low cross but it was enough to catch Tomas Hubocan's arm and wrong-foot Malafeev for a second time.
Again Zenit battled back but again Abbiati frustrated it as he flew across his goal to claw away a full-blooded Anyukov drive and secure a win to ease the pressure on boss Massimiliano Allegri.
UEFA Champions League
Borussia Dortmund defender Lukasz Piszczek will undergo hip surgery after this weekend's UEFA Champions League final against Bayern Munich.