Premier Geelong is in a 0-3 hole after a Jack Lukosius-inspired Gold Coast celebrated the 200th game of stalwart David Swallow with a 19-point win at Heritage Bank Stadium.
Lukosius kicked a career-high five goals – including a remarkable 65m set shot with the game in the balance – to spearhead the 10.13 (73) to 7.12 (54) triumph.
The Cats' loss, following earlier defeats to Collingwood and Carlton, leaves them languishing near the bottom of the ladder and with plenty of questions for coach Chris Scott.
Geelong is the first premier since North Melbourne in 1976 to start 0-3.
Despite the best efforts of Jeremy Cameron (3.3 from 15 touches), Tom Stewart (30) and Patrick Dangerfield (19 and one goal), the Cats were outplayed for much of the day.
Gold Coast's first win of the season came on the back of dominance around the stoppages (40-23) and suffocating forward pressure, with Nick Holman leading a rabid brigade of smaller players that gave the champions little space to breathe.
The SUNS led by three points at the half and seven points at the final change, and with the game up for grabs it was Lukosius that would stand tallest.
After Charlie Ballard became an unlikely hero with his second career goal in 90 games from 50m, it was Lukosius that would leave the home fans stunned.
From well inside the centre square, and with opponent Zach Tuohy barely believing he was taking a shot, the former No.2 draft pick launched the ball into the Carrara sky and through the posts to be mobbed by his teammates.
Jarrod Witts was enormous for the winners, while Matt Rowell (24 and eight clearances), Touk Miller (21 and seven) and Noah Anderson (21 and seven) all had major impacts.
In an enterprising opening quarter that regularly saw the ball transition from one end of the ground to the other, Geelong feasted on Gold Coast's mistakes to take a seven-point lead to the first break.
The home team arrested some control late in the term, with Lachie Weller's 11 disposals proving crucial, as his energy and dash helped set up the first goal for Luksoius.
The second quarter was a case of missed opportunities for the SUNS, kicking 1.6 and missing a host of gilt-edged chances.
Ben King dropped another couple he should have marked – but contributed positively at ground level – while Lukosius, Joel Jeffrey, Mal Rosas Jnr and Jy Farrar missed shots at goal they'd be disappointed in.
King had a slow start but should be commended for battling on, kicking a goal, taking a spectacular fourth quarter mark and giving off two direct goal assists.
Lukosius' breakout day
After some external critiquing of his performances during the first fortnight, former No.2 draft pick Jack Lukosius had a breakout game that finished with a remarkable exclamation point. With the SUNS leading by seven points and the game in the balance, Lukosius took a mark 60m from goal and launched an incredible drop punt straight through sticks. He finished with 5.2 from 13 disposals and showed genuine signs of being a forward that could contribute at a high level.
Bowes back to the Coast
After 83 games with the SUNS and a highly-publicised off-season trade, Jack Bowes made his first appearance in Cats colours against his former club. Gold Coast co-captain Touk Miller asked the home fans during the week to show Bowes respect, and that's what they did as they 25-year-old shook off any nerves with a lovely set shot for goal from 40m in the opening term.
GOLD COAST 2.3 3.9 6.11 10.13 (73)
GEELONG 3.4 3.6 5.10 7.12 (54)
Gold Coast: Lukosius 5, Sexton, King, Jeffrey, Ballard, Anderson
Geelong: Cameron 3, Rohan 2, Dangerfield, Bowes
Gold Coast: Witts, Miller, Lukosius, Weller, Rowell, Holman
Geelong: Stewart, Cameron, Dangerfield, Atkins, Smith
Gold Coast: Flanders (knee)
Geelong: De Koning (head)
Gold Coast: Alex Sexton (replaced Flanders in the third quarter)
Geelong: Gary Rohan (replaced De Koning in the third quarter)
Crowd: 13,122 at Heritage Bank Stadium