The Brumbies say their first loss of the Super Rugby season, at the hands of the highly-physical Stormers, is a learning experience that will help them come finals time.
Jake White's men were outplayed by the Stormers, who won 35-22 at Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, and missed the chance to match their best-ever start to a season of five straight wins.
The Brumbies got to within three points with seven minutes remaining but a pass by lock Peter Kimlin was intercepted by Stormers winger Gerhard van den Heever who scored to seal their fate.
Despite the loss the Brumbies remain top of the Super table, two points clear of defending champions the Chiefs, while their advantage over Queensland in the Australian conference has been cut to six points.
Expectations were sky-high after they steam-rolled the Sharks last round in their opening South African match but they weren't able to replicate the intensity and precision.
The Stormers, coming off the bye, burst out of the blocks to catch the visitors off-guard.
Coach Jake White said the result proved just how tough it was to win both games travelling in South Africa.
He was delighted with the fight his team showed to get back in the match from 22-10 down at halftime after the Stormers had run in three tries to one.
Stormers winger Gio Aplon showed his dazzling footwork to stand up fullback Robbie Coleman for the opening try before Brumbies winger Henry Speight split a try double by Springbok giant Andries Bekker.
"The way they came back showed a little ticker," White said.
"With seven minutes to go that game could have gone either way and I felt the momentum coming our way but it wasn't meant to be."
The Brumbies hadn't played the Stormers since White took over in 2011 and he said it was a valuable lesson with both sides a chance of meeting in the finals.
"They play a unique style of rugby," the former South African Test coach said.
"Their defence is consistently the best in the competition so we had to find way in which we could break them down and we didn't get it right.
"It's another learning curve for us as a group to make sure if we play them again we can play them again."
Veteran flanker George Smith had another blinder, forcing four turnovers a brutal breakdown contest.
The Brumbies missed the attacking guile of in-form fullback Jesse Mogg, who was a late withdrawal.
White said he and halfback Nic White, who also has a shoulder injury, would be assessed upon their return to Canberra and both were a chance of facing the Bulls at home next Saturday night.