When GB set a world record to qualify for the Olympic gold medal final, it seemed Ed Clancy, Bradley Wiggins, Steven Burke and Owain Doull would easily get the better of Australia this time in a long standing rivalry between the two nations.
Australia only just scraped through to the final after its earlier stoush with Denmark. Alex Edmonson, Michael Hepburn, and the youngsters Callum Scotson and Sam Welsford appeared to struggle, bested by the Danes at each kilometre time split. But Denmark faltered in the final kilometre and the Aussies made it through.
Fans and pundits wondered where Jack Bobridge was, coach Tim Decker resting him for the gold final. It seemed a big risk after such a close one, not of course taking anything away from 20-year-old Callum Scottson. It was after all the line-up (bar Miles Scotson for Hepburn) that beat Great Britain at this year's World Championships.
The reigning world champions were guaranteed a medal. That the colour was silver seemed a formality.
But Australia nearly did it. Bobridge was back in after a rest and the team seemed more fluid. The Brits were beaten at each time check, although GB's third kilometre lap time was faster. The splits:
1000m 1:01.298 (total time) 1:01.298 (lap time)
2000m 1:56.675 (total time) 55.377 (lap time)
3000m 2:53.161 (total time) 56.486 (lap time)
1000m 1:01.597 (total time) +0.299 (gap) 1:01.597 (lap time)
2000m 1:57.370 (total time) +0.695 (gap) 55.773 (lap time)
3000m 2:53.251 (total time) +0.090 (gap) 55.881 (lap time)
Bobridge peeled off right on the 3km mark, while GB's fourth rider held on until the bell rang. The GB train almost came apart, but even with a dangling third man on the bell lap, GB brought it home. It was still close, Australia's final lap 57.847 against GB's 57.014.
And it was another world record for GB of 3.50.265. Australia finished with a "personal best" of 3.51.008, but it was better than the world record that stood before today.
Australian rider reactions
The Australians spoke to Channel 7's Katherine Bates after the race and while silver still seemed to hurt, the quintet were trying to stay positive.
"I'm over the moon just to be selected here. But you've got to earn your stripes and I think we went out there and put our heart on our sleeve and pretty much gave it all we had."
"You get beaten by a team that does a ride like that and beats the world record it's hard to complain. We as a team went quicker than the old world record. Everyone put their hand up and these young guys especially to come out after being juniors last year and do what they did here is phenomenal.
"In the final we had nothing to lose. As Aussies we laid it all down there. We walk away with silver again but you can't take away the effort we put in today."
"It was a red hot ride for both teams as it has been all year. Yesterday wasn't the best day for us. We bounced back well today. It felt like old school team pursuiting we used to ride five years ago, go out full gas and try and hold on to it. It was good fun but full credit to the British team to come here at another level."
"Massive goal for the last four years. To come here and get so close I've done half of what I wanted to do. Can't really fault us. It's bittersweet with silver. It's pretty special but when you're aiming for something so high it's hard to take."
"It was a nailbiter in the finish! I'll keep pushing forward. Who knows what 2020 holds."
Reaction from Wiggo
"It's hard not to come off the track and spout a load of cliches but really, the last 12 months we have done everything together,” Wiggins to the BBC.
"Training camps at altitude, early starts and late finishes. Cycling on Christmas Day. It was all for this and we've done it. These three guys here are amazing.
"When you have guys like that it makes your life easier. I was trying not to think about winning but these guys have been bouncing off the ceiling all afternoon. It was fantastic."
Social media on the GB win
GB World Record #1 split times
1000m 1:02.022 (total time) 1:02.022 (lap time)
2000m 1:57.730 (total time) 55.708 (lap time)
3000m 2:53.785 (total time) 56.055 (lap time)
4000m 3:50.570 (total time) 56.785 (lap time)
GB World Record #2 split times
1000m 1:01.597 (total time) 1:01.597 (lap time)
2000m 1:57.370 (total time) 55.773 (lap time)
3000m 2:53.251 (total time) 55.881 (lap time)
4000m 3:50.265 (total time) 57.014 (lap time)
For full results from the men's team pursuit, visit Rio2016.