Wednesday hearts were broken in injury time as James Milner struck to book Manchester City’s place in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Milner scored twice to overturn the Owls’ surprise lead over the Premier Division champions, earned with an Atdhe Nuhiu effort.
Yet there was plenty for Wednesday to be proud of after a performance packed with heart, endeavour and energy.
For so long, they restricted and frustrated a side brimming with world class talent before succumbing to a suckerpunch in time added on.
The performance helped to ease the hurt of the 7-0 mauling they suffered at the Etihad in the Capital One Cup in September.
And that started when towering forward Nuhiu slotted home superbly after 14 minutes to deliver a hammerblow to the Premier League champions, who started with eight of the players from the 7-0 win.
A half time lead was nothing more than Wednesday deserved after managing the might of Manchester City with real aplomb over 45 high tempo minutes.
It took a superb last ditch tackle from skipper Glenn Loovens to deny Bacary Sagna as City started with real menace against the Owls at the Etihad.
Wednesday barely got out of their own half in the first five minutes as City controlled possession.
But the Owls began to have increasing success in the opposition half, largely through patient and considered build-up play.
The first real attempt on goal came from the hosts with Jesus Navas firing narrowly over from 20 yards after a short corner routine.
But then came the shock opening goal.
A fine ball from Kieran Lee sent Stevie May racing down the right and he cut back to Nuhiu who struck a first time effort past Willy Cabalero to put Wednesday in front.
And after Nuhiu’s opener, City were noticeably rattled with several wayward passes and it took them a good few minutes to settle down.
Yaya Toure threatened on 24 minutes with a direct run but hooked his shot from the edge of the box well wide.
And Frank Lampard pulled another low effort wide after a good run and lay-off from Stevan Jovetic two minutes later.
It was the 38th minute when the Owls had their next opportunity on goal. May drilled an effort from 25 yards which drifted well wide.
Fernando produced a fine sliding tackle to prevent Jacques Maghoma from going clear in the box after a brilliant lay-off from Nuhiu.
Wednesday had a shout for a penalty early in the second half.
Kieran Lee darted into the area and tumbled under pressure just in front of Manchester City keeper Willy Caballero.
The early stages of the second half saw the pattern of the first period continue with both sides breaking forward well.
Claude Dielna tested his aim from the angle with a high curling effort that was easily claimed by Caballero.
And there was a nervy moment for Wednesday when Navas cut in a low cross with which Frank Lampard just failed to connect six yards out.
As with the first half, City’s final ball consistently let them down as they struggled to break down a well-organised and committed Wednesday outfit.
But after knocking and knocking, they eventually got their answer.
A lovely through ball from substitute David Silva sent Milner through and he clipped a ball through Kirkland’s legs.
The introduction of Silva and Samir Nasri just after the hour mark gave City a boost in their play which had largely been sloppy against a determined outfit.
While Wednesday were largely penned into their third of the pitch, they did continue to look threatening on the break.
Lovely interplay between Nuhiu, substitute Caolan Lavery and Liam Palmer saw the right back released into the box but he fired into the side netting on the angle.
And Jacques Maghoma was denied with a last ditch tackle after he and Jeremy Helan raced clear following a City corner.
But it was City who would have the last laugh.
Again Milner and Navas combined with the former Leeds man stretching to beat Kirkland to a low cross and send his side through.
Manchester City: Caballero, Sagna, Kolorov (Clichy 75), Mangala, Boyata, Milner, Fernando, Navas, Lampard (Silva 61), Toure, Jovetic (Nasri 61).
Subs not used: Hart, Demichelis, Fernandinho, Celina.
Owls: Kirkland, Palmer, Lees, Loovens, Dielna (McCabe 85), Lee, Semedo, Helan, Maghoma, May (Lavery 66), Nuhiu (Maguire 75).
Subs not used: Dawson, Corry, Young, De Havilland.
Goals: Nuhiu (14), Milner (66, 90)
Referee: Michael Oliver (Northumberland)
Cards: Yellow: Palmer 45 (Wednesday)