The storm clouds swirling around Gosford proved an apt metaphor as a troubled Central Coast played Wellington back into form by crashing to a record-equalling 8-2 defeat on Saturday evening.
Missing players due to suspension and disciplinary reasons, a hugely inexperienced Mariners side were carved apart by the likes of two-goal Phoenix striker Roy Krishna and his attacking cohorts.
Down 4-0 at halftime, the home side was 7-0 down by the 59th minute mark and looking likely to suffer by an all-time A-League record losing margin, with the previous mark set by Adelaide United who secured an 8-1 win over North Queensland Fury in 2011.
The Mariners went into the match without a host of senior players with Matt Simon and Aiden O'Neill unavailable due to suspension.
Andrew Hoole was omitted due to disciplinary issues, having fallen foul of a drinking ban, while Connor Pain was a surprise and unexplained omission.
Yet it was the Phoenix who went into the contest in freefall, having won just one of their last seven matches and in danger of ceding their spot in the top-six to Newcastle Jets.
That momentum changed almost instantly as Phoenix raced to a 3-0 lead inside 21 minutes with an own goal from Mariners defender Sam Graham getting the scoring underway.
Krishna, having forced that opener, soon doubled the advantage with a cool lob.
David Williams then finished off after profiting from a defensive turnover, before Krishna went equal top of the competition's goal-scoring list with his second of the night and 14th of the season moments before the break.
Mike Mulvey's halftime talk clearly had little impact as Liberato Cacace, Sarpreet Singh and Louis Fenton all netted by the hour mark.
The Mariners netted two consolation goals against the run of play, firstly through fullback Jack Clisby and then via a fine Stephen Mallon freekick.
Wellington's previous best win was 6-0 against the defunct Gold Coast United in 2009.
The result sees the Phoenix leapfrog Melbourne City and Adelaide United up to fourth on the ladder - the latter on goal difference.
The scoreline equals the competition's biggest scoring match when the Mariners crashed to an 8-2 home loss against Newcastle Jets just 11 months ago.
Australian Associated Press