Five new leaders emerged across the country over the weekend as the tension of each state's title race began to take its toll.
Capital Football, New South Wales, Northern New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania, Queensland all saw momentum swings at crucial parts of the season.
Catch up on the latest National Premier Leagues action from around Australia with our weekend wrap.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Sydney Olympic slumped to a second successive defeat in Round 18 to gift new leaders APIA Leichhardt a two-point advantage with just four matches remaining in the regular season.
In what could prove a season-defining moment, Alec Urosevski's 77th-minute strike gave Rockdale City Suns a 1-0 win at Ilinden Sports Centre and consigned Olympic to back-to-back losses following last weekend's slip-up against Blacktown City.
The title is now APIA's to lose after Jordan Murray's hat-trick inspired them to a 6-2 thumping of ninth-placed Sutherland Sharks.
Sydney United effectively confirmed their Finals Series participation with a come-from-behind 3-1 home win over Hakoah Sydney City East, while Marconi are in danger of missing out after a 0-0 draw with Blacktown City left them two points adrift of fifth-placed Rockdale.
Elsewhere, Bonnyrigg White Eagles kept their slim post-season hopes alive by beating Wollongong Wolves 1-0, Jewook Woo's header giving interim head coach Milan Susak his first win at the helm.
Perth Glory climbed five points clear at the summit courtesy of an accomplished 3-1 win away to Bayswater City.
Goals from Michael Donfeh, Daniel Stynes and Henry Hore ensured they capitalised on title rivals Cockburn City's 2-1 defeat away to Perth SC, who had Gustavo Catarcione and Matthew Milenkovic to thank for a major boost to their hopes of a top-four finish.
That result saw Perth SC leapfrog Inglewood United, surprise 3-0 losers against an ECU Joondalup side ably led by two-goal skipper Daryl Nicol.
Armadale and Sorrento also enjoyed fine weekends with 5-1 and 4-0 wins over Balcatta and Subiaco respectively, while Floreat Athena ran out 3-1 victors against Stirling Lions.
But the most entertainment fittingly came at Wildlife Safari Stadium, where Forrestfield United staged a thrilling fightback from three goals down to equalise in the eighth minute of stoppage time and snatch a 4-4 draw against a Joondalup United team which had three players sent off.
Though they registered just their fifth point of the campaign, the late collapse came as a bitter blow to Joondalup as they conceded three times beyond the 70th minute, including twice after Matthew Sparrow's initial dismissal.
South Melbourne secured bragging rights in one of Australian football's fiercest rivalries on Sunday with a comprehensive 5-1 crushing of Melbourne Knights.
The hosts raced to a three-goal lead at the interval and completed the job in the second half in a stunning reversal of their underwhelming recent form.
Defeat for Knights meant the top four pulled further away from the pack as fifth-placed Green Gully also lost 2-0 at home to Pascoe Vale.
Meanwhile, league leaders Heidelberg United rebounded from last week's loss in the manner of true contenders by beating Northcote City 3-1.
They remain one point ahead of Bentleigh Greens and six clear of Avondale FC despite both sides registering 1-0 victories, over Hume City and Dandenong Thunder respectively.
The weekend's other results included successes for Oakleigh Cannons and Bulleen Lions.
Canberra FC have muscled their way back into first after a pair of weekend results changed the complexion at the top of the table.
Canberra Olympic's 4-2 loss away to Finals Series hopefuls Belconnen United opened the door and Paul Macor's men made the chance count, sneaking past Gungahlin United 1-0 thanks to Michael Taurasi's 34th-minute header.
While one point separates that pair, Tuggeranong United are now five off the pace following a hard-earned 1-1 draw with seventh-placed Woden Weston.
And in the battle of the bottom two, it was Riverina Rhinos climbing off the foot of the ladder courtesy of a 3-2 win over Monaro Panthers in which they had trailed by two goals.
Edgeworth FC ended Broadmeadow Magic's four-round stay in first as the competition's top two traded places.
Adam Cawley's brace headlined Edgeworth's 4-1 win away at struggling Weston Workers, making it six unbeaten for the new leaders.
They own that honour as a result of Broadmeadow's surprise 1-0 loss to mid-table Charlestown City Blues, the first-half winner coming from Kane Goodchild.
Lambton Jaffas also remain in the title equation on the back of an undefeated streak which stretched to seven matches with Sunday's 3-0 defeat of Adamstown Rosebud.
Lake Macquarie City joined them in the winners' circle, beating Valentine FC 2-1, while Newcastle Jets Youth downed Hamilton Olympic 3-2 with Makis Petratos notching two.
Campbelltown City continue to set the pace in South Australia, seeing off Adelaide United 1-0 to make it three wins on the spin.
The table top-toppers have not been beaten since losing to the same opposition in April.
That fine run of form has helped to open up a cushy four-point gap to Adelaide City, who comfortably accounted for Sturt Lions 4-0.
Metrostars had been two points shy of the pacesetters leading into Round 18, but a 1-1 draw with fourth-placed Adelaide Comets saw them slip behind City on goal difference.
Croydon Kings and Adelaide Olympic similarly battled to a 0-0 stalemate, the latter's breathing space in sixth being trimmed back to a solitary point by Para Hills Knights, who beat WT Birkalla 1-0 thanks to Mohammed Sumaoro.
Elsewhere, West Adelaide eased to a 4-1 dismantling of South Adelaide.
The top four is looking increasingly settled in Queensland after Brisbane Strikers' 2-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar Youth left them eight points outside the Finals Series places.
It appears to be a similar story at the very top, too, with Lions FC now first with two games in hand.
They put themselves in a commanding position by virtue of a straightforward 4-0 victory on the road to Sunshine Coast FC and are now ahead of Moreton Bay United – 5-1 winners over Western Pride – on goal difference.
Olympic FC had begun the weekend at the summit but were twice pegged back in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Cairns FC in Far North Queensland.
But the rollercoaster of the round undoubtedly belong to the incredible 5-5 draw fought out between Redlands United and Brisbane City on Friday.
Former Brisbane Roar forward James Meyer struck deep into added time to complete his brace and a snatch a point for City, undoing the six-minute treble Shuto Kuboyama earlier feasted on for Redlands.
All eyes were on Saturday afternoon's top-of-the-table clash and Devonport Strikers didn't disappoint as they landed a big blow on title rivals Launceston City.
Trailing at half-time to Noah Mies' header, Devonport impressively rallied back through a Brayden Mann brace either side of Joel Stone's wicked long-range strike to prevail 3-1 and go top on goal difference.
It was the second time as many weeks that City had squandered a lead to lose following their shock 4-2 stumble against South Hobart seven days earlier.
Hobart Zebras and South Hobart also issued reminders of their title credentials with big 9-0 and 4-1 victories over Clarence United and Olympic FC Warriors respectively.
The other match saw Kingborough Lions dispatch Northern Rangers 5-2.
Darwin Athletic missed a golden chance to tighten the title race on Friday when two goals from University Azzurri's Edwin McGrath helped consign them to a 3-0 loss.
League leaders Hellenic AC sat out the weekend with the bye but their four-point advantage remains intact.
In the division's other game, Dylan Newall and Luis Rodrigues fired Casuarina FC to a 2-0 win over Port Darwin FC.