Brisbane will collect the wooden spoon for the first time in their 32-year history after a 32-16 NRL loss to North Queensland ensured a heartbreaking end to ex-skipper Darius Boyd's career.
The six-time premiers' mighty fall in 2020 is mercifully complete after a Kyle Feldt hat-trick inspired a rare Cowboys win at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday, which extended Brisbane's club record losing streak to 11 games.
The defeat was further soured by makeshift five-eighth and potential NSW bolter Kotoni Staggs suffering a suspected ACL knee injury in the first half.
Despite kissing their finals hopes goodbye long ago, Brisbane had plenty to play for in dual premiership winner Boyd's 337th and final NRL game.
But instead of sending him out a winner, the Broncos officially hit rock bottom.
However, Boyd said his stellar 15-season career wouldn't be defined by Brisbane's 17th loss of 2020 - another unwanted club record - that secured the dreaded spoon.
"This game doesn't change things for me," the 33-year-old Boyd said."
"The spoon is terrible but to play for Brisbane was a dream - I am grateful for the chance.
"It has been a challenging season for a number of reasons but... it's been a great ride."
Premiership winning captain Kevin Walters and ex-Cowboys mentor Paul Green were interviewed on Thursday for the Broncos head coach gig.
Whoever takes over faces a daunting task.
But Boyd was confident of a quick Broncos turnaround.
"There's a quality group for the club to get behind. If they regroup (in pre-season), refresh with a defensive mindset, this group could easily get back into the top eight next year," he said.
While Boyd did his best to inspire his Broncos, North Queensland's Scott Drinkwater and Valentine Holmes proved the difference in the six-tries-to-three win in front of 17,174 fans.
The Cowboys duo set up three tries apiece with Holmes icing the result with a stunning run from his try-line before unleashing Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to score and finish a near 100m effort in the 76th minute.
It was a happy farewell for premiership winning back-rower Gavin Cooper, who played his 247th and last game for North Queensland and signed off by kicking the final conversion.
The 323-game NRL veteran will leave the Cowboys but the 35-year-old is yet to decide his next move.
Incoming North Queensland coach Todd Payten still faces a challenge next year after the Cowboys finished with a disappointing 5-15 record - finishing in the bottom four for a third year in a row.
"It's a good way to finish for the club," Cowboys interim coach Josh Hannay said.
"Brisbane have had the wood on us for the last few clashes and we spoke about us turning that around...to start their own legacy."
Boyd set the scene for a fairytale farewell when he scored in the 13th minute as Brisbane led 12-0.
But North Queensland ran in three unanswered tries to grab a 16-12 half-time advantage.
Brisbane levelled when winger Corey Oates (55th minute) crossed in the 55th minute.
However, from there it was all the Cowboys as NRL leading try scorer Feldt sealed his hat-trick with two tries in seven minutes.
Australian Associated Press