The drama started when hotly-fancied home heroes Victoria Pendleton and Jess Varnish were disqualified from the women's team sprint.
After breaking the world record in the heats, only to be immediately surpassed by China's pair, the two Brits made an illegal changeover in their semi-final victory over Ukraine.
Coach Dave Brailsford protested with officials at the Velodrome as fierce debate ensued, leaving onlookers and commentators to try and read into some worryingly negative body language.
But the bad news was confirmed: Pendleton overtook by half a bike wheel too early and was left to rue a mistake which ended hopes of another British medal.
"We were probably just a bit too eager," Pendleton told BBC Sport. "It's one of those things.
"It was very unfortunate; it was a mistake made in a fraction of a second.
"It was on the change. Jess got stuck a bit on the start and perhaps it put her a little bit on edge and perhaps she was trying to make up for the difference she lost.
"Maybe she judged the straight a bit wrong and I just saw the gap and just went for it because that's my cue.
"I'm desperately disappointed for Jess because she has done an incredible job in getting this far. Her team sprint today was the best of her life so far.
"I'm sorry for disappointing all the people that have come to support us and perhaps not offering the ride that we would have done. I'm really sorry."
But the controversy did not end there. In the final, China were also disqualified after beating Germany.
China were already celebrating their apparent triumph when news began to filter through to the arena.
And it required BBC reporter Jill Douglas to inform the Germans that they had won the gold (below) as the farcical scenes continued.