The last two winners of the gold medal in the men's individual sabre failed to make it into tonight's semi-finals at the ExCeL - and so did the current world top three.
Athens champion Aldo Montano, with "God Save The Queen" shaved into the back of his head, lost to fellow Italian Diego Occhiuzzi 15-13.
Also in the last 16 China's Zhong Man, the surprise winner in Beijing four years ago, was beaten 15-10 by Hungarian Aron Szilagyi, Russian world number two Alexey Yakimenko went down 15-14 to American Daryl Homer and third-ranked Korean Gu Bongil lost by the same score to German Max Hartung.
Then, in the quarter-finals in front of a near full house, German top seed Nicolas Limbach crashed out 15-12 to Russia's Nikolay Kovalev.
In a surprise last four it was Kovalev against Hungarian Aron Szilagyi - a clash between the sport's ninth and sixth-ranked fencers - and Occhiuzzi against Romanian Rares Dumitrescu. They are ranked 14th and eighth respectively.
A day after Italy's women took a clean sweep of the medals in the foil Occhiuzzi became their sole survivor following the early defeat of 39-year-old Luigi Tarantino.
He was shown a red card and suffered the loss of the deciding point at 14-14 for going too soon at a restart, having already incurred one infringement against Hartung.
World number four Montano, whose father and grandfather were both Olympic medallists, pulled a thigh muscle in his national championships in May, but Occhiuzzi said: "I've got a very recent injury myself too."
Britain's sole Olympic sabreur James Honeybone lost his first-round match to Belorussian Valery Pryiemka 15-9 and, despite being much the lower-ranked fencer, was furious with himself.
"I made more mistakes and he punished them - I didn't perform and let everybody down a bit," said the 21-year-old world number 93 from Truro, one of eight members of the 10-strong British squad awarded host nation spots.
"I let myself down. Not good enough. It's a massive experience to take away, but it would have been a little bit better to have more competitive experience.
"I love a big crowd and thrive off the atmosphere, but my fencing was not quite up to it today."
Asked what was next for him, Honeybone said: "Rio 2016, the Olympics in 2020 and 2024.
"The average medal age is around 27 to 30. This is the beginning."