With 4 laps to go, Gibernau and Rossi were still nose-to-tail and literally in a different class as they pushed each other, and their machinery, to the very limits. If either was to break away, it would have been before then and as such it was clear that the heart-stopping battle would only be settled on the last lap, or perhaps the last corner of the last lap...
The much awaited first strike came when Rossi sliced his way ahead at the final turn with 2 laps to go - and then set off at 110%. But Gibernau stepped up and met the Doctor's challenge - holding position just a tenth of a second behind the Yamaha star as the last lap began.
Gibernau was rewarded for his response when Rossi briefly lost the front, allowing Sete to take the lead after a brief bar-to-bar battle with the Italian.
Rossi then dived back inside the #15 through the stadium section, but almost lost the front again - allowing Gibernau to cut back into lead heading for the final turn - whereupon Rossi charged up the inside. The two then locked together, sending Sete into the gravel - but he remained on two-wheels.
Rossi himself only just made the turn, but then went on to wheelie his way to victory, while Sete made his outrage clear with some 'interesting' hand signals as he took second - by which time Rossi was beginning a slow down lap he'll want to forget, as he faced the wrath of the home fans.
In case Rossi had misinterpreted the boos and jeers, the podium ceremony will have left him in no doubt as to how the crowd 'called' the collision, while Gibernau bit his tongue to shake the Italian's hand with a face of thunder.
Being the bad guy - or being perceived as the bad guy - isn't in Rossi's script and he seemed, perhaps naturally, a little uncomfortable at his new found role; the 26-year-old posturing almost defiantly in the face of the obvious displeasure from the Jerez fans. A stance that only encouraged them further.
But Rossi's last turn move, while clumsy, wasn't illegal and has probably only served to change the sporting points of reference between himself and Gibernau for the rest of the season. A new era of on-track aggression may just have begun...
Meanwhile, Melandri was by far the happiest of the top three at Jerez, the former 250cc world champion claiming a 'dream' (and 'clean'!) RCV debut podium after finishing a lonely 18secs behind Rossi and 8secs in front of Camel Honda's Alex Barros.
Barros had been as low as twelfth on the first lap but fought his way up the field to finish a fraction ahead of Kawasaki's ever performing Shinya Nakano, who in turn held off the second yellow machine of Troy Bayliss.