It sounds ridiculous after just three games, but Dundalk might have already put the kibosh on St Patrick's Athletic's title hopes following this encounter at Oriel Park.
The victory, Dundalk's third on the bounce, came by virtue of goals from Brian Gartland and a David McMillan brace but Pat's boss Liam Buckley will feel his side hit the self-destruct button with both Conor McCormack and Killian Brennan being sent off.
As things stand, Pat's are six points adrift of Dundalk and, bearing in mind that Stephen Kenny's side lost just three games on the way to the title last year, that gap could prove to be insurmountable, even at this early stage of the season.
Gartland, who reached double figures last year, broke the deadlock in the 16th minute, rising highest in to head home a John Mountney corner.
The visitors enjoyed a brief spell of pressure towards the end of the half that saw Chris Forrester denied by a fine Gary Rogers save but just as Buckley was preparing to finalise his half-time team talk, McCormack picked up a second yellow card for a barge on Dane Massey.
Christy Fagan flashed a left-footed drive wide early in the second half before Brennan lost his head and was dismissed by referee Paul McLaughlin after an altercation with Towell.
Dundalk put the nine men to the sword and McMillan's beautiful volley made it 2-0 before he added a second from a Massey cross late on.
DUNDALK - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Boyle, Massey; Towell, Shields; Mountney (Meenan 63), Finn (Byrne 84), Horgan; McMillan.
ST PATRICK'S ATHLETIC - O'Malley; McCormack, Hoare, Browne, Bermingham; Chambers (Desmond h-t), Bolger, Brennan; Byrne (Kilduff 66), Fagan, Forrester (Greene 78).
REF - P McLaughlin