Without the bruising brilliance of Aleksandar Mitrovic, Scott Parker arrived in south Wales in need of inspiration from elsewhere to edge Fulham closer to an immediate Premier League return.
At either end of the second half in this play-off semi-final first leg, his call was answered in stunning style.
After Josh Onomah’s magical run and finish put Fulham in the driving seat, Neeskens Kebano's last-gasp free-kick has them speeding out of sight en route to Wembley.
Definitely, Neil Harris felt afterwards that the visitors celebrated 'like they'd won the tie.'
But Parker hit back: 'Neil has said a lot over the last week,' he said. 'I just see a professional team that understood that there is only half of this tie done.'
This was tough on Cardiff, who had their chances but who face an uphill battle after the second goal.
'A right kick in the nuts,' Harris said.
No second-tier side has ever overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit but Harris insisted: 'We're capable of clawing this back.'
Their task won't be any easier if Mitrovic comes back from the hamstring injury that kept him out here.
Without their 26-goal talisman, Fulham looked short of ideas until four minutes after the break, when Onomah collected possession 18 yards out, held off one challenge before beating two more and sneaking the ball in at the near post.
He ran straight to Parker, whose smile grew wider after their brilliant second. But it was Cardiff who should have drawn first blood.
Twice in quick succession Robert Glatzel was denied - first by Michael Hector’s brilliant challenge and then by goalkeeper Marek Rodak.
At the other end, Tom Cairney’s curling shot crept past the post before the breakthrough came.
From there, Fulham piled on further pressure. And when Cairney was fouled 25 yards out, Kebano fired home the killer second.