Palace's hopes of automatic promotion took a severe blow as they were thumped 4-0 by a rampant Birmingham City as their unbeaten run at Selhurst came to a shuddering end.
A two goal half-time deficit made life difficult for the Eagles but two goals in the space of five minutes just after the hour mark as Ian Holloway's side missed another opportunity to secure the coveted second spot in the Championship table.
The result seemed an incredible possibility when Palace began brightly, and Kagisho Dikgacoi had a great chance to open the scoring eight minutes in when he dispossessed Wade Elliott on the edge of the area but his drilled effort with the outside of his foot just missed the target.
Moments later the visitors mustered a response when Nathan Redmond wriggled his way around the Palace defence before unleashing a shot from 20 yards which didn't trouble Julian Speroni.
Searching for his 30th Championship goal of the season, Glenn Murray had a couple of chances to break the deadlock, but after a snap-shot drifted wide of the target he lofted a header over the crossbar after latching onto a raking pass from Damien Delaney.
However after 22 minutes the Blues took the lead in controversial fashion. The ball deflected off Paul Robinson's hand but the referee allowed play to continue, and seconds later Redmond collected it, skipped around Mile Jedinak's challenge and found a yard of space to precisely find the bottom corner of the net.
The goal seemed to suck the wind out of the Eagles' sails as Birmingham began to dominate possession and Speroni, making his 300th appearance for the club, was forced to make a brilliant reaction save from a Morrison header, but it was 2-0 from the resulting corner.
The menacing Nikola Zigic, who had caused Palace huge problems at St Andrews earlier in the campaign, used all his 6'7'' frame to rise highest to flick the ball on and the helpless Delaney diverted it into the net for an own goal.
That's how it remained in the second half and the Eagles were quickly out of the dressing rooms for the second half with Stephen Dobbie taking the place of Jazz Richards and the Scot went close with a similar effort to Redmond's but Butland made a great save.
Jedinak headed the resulting corner over the crossbar and moments later Kevin Phillips had the best chance of the game when his side-footed attempt from a wonderful Dobbie cross went inches wide of the far post.
But just as Palace were looking like getting back into the game, it was all over when the Blues added a third. Shane Ferguson linked up with Mitch Hancox down the left and the full-back's cut back was met by Morrison who found the bottom of the net.
And unbelievably it was 4-0 when Ferguson curled a delicious free-kick from 25 yards over the Eagles wall to rub salt into the wounds as the impressive Blues began to turn on the style with 20 minutes still to play.
Palace pushed for a consolation and Andre Moritz attempted to replicate Ferguson's superb set-piece with an attempt of his own that needed tipping over the bar by Butland and the Brazilian later saw a half volley narrowly miss the far post.
It had been a bleak day for Holloway's men and their luck was summed up in the final minutes when Moritz scuffed a shot well wide of the target despite being four yards out as Palace saw another opportunity to leap into second slip away.
Palace: Speroni, Richards (Dobbie 46), Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak ©, Bolasie, Williams (Wilbraham 69), Phillips (Moritz 69), Murray. Subs: Price, Ward, Parr, Dobbie, Wilbraham, Ramage, Moritz.
Birmingham: Butland, Davies (c), Morrison, Elliott, Fahey (Mullins 66), Zigic, Redmond, Hancox, Caddis, Robinson, Ferguson (Ambrose 88). Subs: Doyle, Caldwell, Mullins, Ambrose, Lovenkrands, Thomas, Reilly.