Caley Thistle threw away a late lead to lose 2-1 to Queen of the South.
Tom Walsh’s goal had Inverness on course to win only their second home game of the season but strikes from Scott Mercer and Stephen Dobbie in the final 10 minutes turned the tie in Queens’ favour.
It blew their chances of jumping back into the play-offs, in a game which they had numerous chances but failed to take them.
Carl Tremarco returned for the home side after two months out with a groin injury, to take the place of the suspended Shaun Rooney in the starting line-up. New signing Kevin McHattie was on the bench following his arrival on a free transfer.
Liam Polworth had the first shot on goal for the Caley Jags after Brad McKay’s persistence allowed the ball to break to him, but his shot was tame and straight at Alan Martin.
Queens responded with an opportunity of their own as Michael Doyle centred for Josh Todd, however he was unable to keep his volley down.
Walsh was continuing to find pockets of space around the Queens box and teed up Jordan White at the back post with a lofted cross, which the striker directed towards goal but Scott Mercer was in place to block.
Jamie McCart was a touch fortunate to get away with his challenge on Todd on 22 minutes, when the wide man raced on to Nicky Low’s ball and shaped to shoot. He came across in front of McCart and went down but referee Barry Cook waved away the appeals.
With Rooney’s suspension McKay was shifted to right-back and made the most of his chance to get forward, firing across goal when Doran played him in.
Queens were playing some enterprising stuff of their own and Todd was proving to be a regular thorn in Caley Thistle’s side. However when Mercer found him in the penalty area, Mark Ridgers produced a spectacular one-handed stop to keep him out.
White spurned another chance to break the deadlock before the break, this time picking up the loose ball from close range after Aaron Doran’s good work but seeing his shot blocked by Martin.
There was still time for Tom Walsh to head against the underside of the crossbar and Callum Semple to deny White on the line, as Inverness pressed for a half-time lead.
The second half started frantically, with Tremarco throwing himself in front of Doyle’s snap-shot and Coll Donaldson glancing a header against the post from Joe Chalmers’ corner.
Walsh finally provided the opener with 69 minutes on the clock with a well-worked goal, volleying in after White headed Tremarco’s cross back into his path.
But Inverness were to shoot themselves in the foot twice in the space of a minute, as Queens turned the game on its head.
Firstly Jordan Marshall escaped down the left flank and squad for Mercer to smash in from close range.
Near enough straight from the kick-off, McKay conceded possession to Dobbie and he slalomed away from the Inverness defence and slid under Ridgers from eight yards.