Michael Wadding had only just thrown in the ball to start this clash when Conor Lehane, the rising star of Cork hurling, was pummelled by the juggernaut of this Kilkenny team and welcomed to the game at the very highest level.
Michael Fennelly's booming shoulder into an open Lehane along the endline was as much a physical as a mental examination for the young Midleton man who has so much pace in his legs and sorcery in his wrists.
It earned a free for Pat Horgan to convert and a tick in Wadding's book for Fennelly.
But Lehane's reaction to the challenge will have pleased Jimmy Barry-Murphy as much as anything else he saw in Pairc Ui Chaoimh when he reflects on an important afternoon for Cork hurling.
Lehane got up and scampered away like a frisky young lamb, unperturbed by the dangers that abounded. Any doubts about his ability to survive the rough and tumble of the game at this level should have been dispelled in that moment.
Lehane was once again an electrifying presence. Every time he got possession there was a ripple of excitement through the 6,874 crowd. Barry-Murphy was excited too. There was shape and method to how his team played here. And a deep-seated spirit that eventually carried them over the line.
They trailed for most of the opening 56 minutes -- Horgan's first free briefly gave them the lead -- but they never lost the belief that this game was there for the taking for them.
It was a victory that rewarded persistence as much as anything else and drew rich praise from Kilkenny manager Brian Cody afterwards.
"They were definitely the better team, could have won by more," he said. "Their young lads were very impressive. We were probably lucky to lose by only two points or whatever it was in the end, Cork could have won by more."
Cody felt the source of most of Kilkenny's scores -- Richie Power scored 1-11 (1-9 from placed balls) before being sent off late in the game for a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Eoin Cadogan -- was an indication of how this game developed. Without the direction of Power and a few fleeting moments from Richie Hogan when he got space, Kilkenny didn't show their usual enterprise in attack.
"Cork never surprise me with their ability to play hurling," said Cody. "It's a good result for them, they're the makings of a very, very serious team very quickly."
Cody chose to drop nine-time All Star Tommy Walsh from the team for the first time in his career and, what's more, opted not to introduce him either when the game was in need of locking down, a salutary lesson for the greatest modern-day defender after his concession of 2-3 to Danny Sutcliffe in Nowlan Park seven days earlier.
In Walsh's absence, Kilkenny's defence still had shaky moments though not on the scale of the Dublin match. JJ Delaney steadied matters when he dropped into the full-back line (from where he had been switched against Dublin) but he was having his head turned by Lehane on a few occasions when at wing-back.
Cody accepted that changes in personnel can lead to inconsistency: "That's the way it works, but it wasn't just the fellas who came in -- we were out-hurled throughout the field. We were playing second fiddle in nearly every position. It wasn't that fellas weren't regulars, Cork were just very good.
"I'd be disappointed with the display, disappointed with the result, but at the same time you can't expect to go through the full league undefeated. Coming to Cork any time is a big ask, today it was too big an ask."
Cork's victory was founded on resolute defence. Eoin Cadogan came back after football commitments last weekend and was defiant at centre-back, especially in the last quarter. Beside him William Egan was also dominant while Sean Og O hAilpin showed in the first half that he still has much to contribute.
Stephen McDonnell drew particular credit from JBM afterwards for playing through the pain barrier with an injury.
Elsewhere, Leaving Cert student Darren Sweetnam was a combative presence against the most forceful midfield in the game. Like Lehane, he is at the core of any optimism that prevails in Cork hurling.
Kilkenny led, thanks chiefly to Power's accuracy from frees and Cork's naivety in conceding them.
Power smashed home a penalty after he had been pulled down by Brian Murphy on the half hour mark for a 1-8 to 0-7 lead but Cork's response was immediate and effective as Paudie O'Sullivan swooped quickest to read a break off a Lorcan McLoughlin free and finish impressively.
With the breeze in the second half, Barry-Murphy felt they were well positioned to overhaul a 1-10 to 1-8 deficit.
"We lost a game last Sunday that we felt we might get something out of, and against Dublin we won a game that we might have lost, so it's a very tough League," he said. "We said during the week that we were very disappointed with our second half against Galway. We led by eight points and at this level that's a terrible lead to lose."
"We very concerned about that but we spoke about it and at half-time today we were well in it and felt that, with the breeze behind us, if we could keep our intensity that we played with in the first half we could win. That's what I am most pleased about."
They had drawn level by the 56th minute and were then in front thanks to two Horgan frees before Power tied things up again after substitute Colin Fennelly was fouled.
But Cork knew they had hurled too well not to get something from the performance and they finished strongly with Horgan adding two late frees before Power's red card.
The upshot is that Cork have nudged themselves close to a semi-final place. Only a Galway win over Kilkenny next weekend, and losing themselves in Thurles, can really scupper them. Even then it would only be on points difference.
Man of the Match: Eoin Cadogan (Cork)
Scorers -- Cork: P Horgan 0-8 (7f), P O'Sullivan 1-1, C Naughton, W Egan 0-2 (1 '65', 1f) 0-2 each, C Lehane, P Cronin, D Sweetnam, J Coughlan 0-1 each. Kilkenny: R Power 1-11 (1-0 pen, 8f, 1 '65'), R Hogan 0-2, TJ Reid, M Rice 0-1 each.
Cork -- D Og Cusack 8; S O'Neill 7, S McDonnell 8, B Murphy 6; S Og O hAilpin 7, E Cadogan 8, W Egan 8; L McLoughlin, 7, D Sweetnam 7; C Lehane 8, P Cronin 6, C Naughton 7; J Coughlan 6, P O'Sullivan 7, P Horgan 7. Subs: N McCarthy 6 for Naughton (47), J Gardiner (68).
Kilkenny -- D Herity 8; P Murphy 6, N Hickey 7, W Phelan 6; K Joyce 7, B Hogan 8, JJ Delaney 7; M Fennelly 7, M Rice 6; TJ Reid 6, R Power 8, M Ruth 5; E Murphy 5, E Larkin 7, R Hogan 7. Subs: C Fennelly 6 for E Murphy (42), A Fogarty 6 for Reid (51), J Mulhall for Ruth.
Ref --M Wadding (Waterford)