Three first half goals by the Melbourne Victory aided by some sloppy Phoenix defending helped the home side to a 3-1 win and allowed them to leapfrog the Wellingtonians on the A-league ladder.
Archie Thompson put the Phoenix on the back foot as early as the third minute with a headed goal, while the Victory's second was an own goal by Phoenix midfielder Vince Lia.
Diogo Ferreira made it 3-nil in the 26th minute with a superb strike and it looked as if the Phoenix were in for a rough evening.
The second half drew a much improved performance from the Phoenix and it was no more than they deserved when striker Alex Smith, in for the injured Paul Ifill, produced a lovely shot with the outside of his right foot to reduce the deficit.
However the spark that had been evident against Brisbane Roar in Dunedin on Wednesday was missing and it appeared playing three games in eight days and travelling between Wellington, Dunedin and Melbourne had caught up with the Phoenix.
Coach Ricki Herbert concedes his players looked a bit off the pace at AAMI Park.
The win means the Victory climb above the Phoenix into fifth on the ladder on points differential.