Where Cork provided further grounds for optimism with the vitality of their display at Páirc Ui Rinn, and the breadth of their options off the bench, Kerry were about as inconsistent as it's possible for a side of their pedigree to be.
Manager Eamonn Fitzmaurice had no difficulty agreeing afterwards that this 11-point defeat was every bit as troubling as the tanking they took from the Rebels eleven months ago in Tralee.
What's impressed most about Cork's four national league outings to date has been the consistency of general performance. Nothing to have them high-fiving in the aisles, but a solid, rounded quartet of displays against Dublin, Monaghan, Donegal and Kerry.
Putting such a score on Kerry was a sprinkling of sugar. Now another interesting challenge awaits them next Sunday in Omagh against Mickey Harte's structured systems.
It's Hobson's choice for Fitzmaurice in terms of which was more worrying - a chaotic first 20 minutes in which Cork scored three goals but should have had five. Or a second half effort as listless as a sum total of three points would indicate.
Cork were 3-4 to 1-2 in front after 17 minutes, Kerry's foothold given them by a handling error from Cork keeper Ken O'Halloran which Kieran Donaghy gratefully accepted.
It was a Nascar sort of first half, with bangs and crashes everywhere.
Kerry got hot for ten minutes when their midfield height advantage gave them all the supply they needed.
The diagonal hanging ball into Donaghy may be almost a decade old at this stage, but it's still a good 'un if properly executed - as it was when he teed up Tommy Walsh for Kerry's second goal in the 25th minute to make it 3-4 to 2-5.
But just like their opening League game against Dublin at the same venue, when Cork looked in need of smelling salts, they found a way to halt opposition momentum - even if that meant a bit of old fashioned schmozzling.
By the time they dust had settled on a spat that began with Eoin Cadogan and Anthony Maher, Cork had quarried themselves out of a hole and added three good points before half-time to lead 3-7 to 2-6.
A lot of their first half momentum came down the flanks where Jamie O'Sullivan and Tomás Clancy deserve huge credit. Consequently Kerry's half forward line was anonymous in the first period, and Eamonn Fitzmaurice was forced to pitch Tommy Walsh and Peter Crowley into the fray before 21 minutes had expired. Desperate measures.
The second half began with a Kerry surge but thereafter Cork wiped the floor with their guests, beating them ten points to three. By comparison to the first period, it was soporific. The more changes Kerry made, the more disjointed they looked. Cork's changes, by comparison, were seamless. Donncha O'Connor was razor-sharp when he came on, scoring four points.
The game's most consistent threat was Colm O'Neill, who was a delight to watch up front. In a Kerry attack, that for the first time in a while looked rudderless without Colm Cooper or James O'Donoghue, only Barry John Keane did himself justice.
Scorers for Cork: C O'Neill (1-6, 3 frees), J O'Rourke (2-0), D O'Connor (0-4, 1 free), K O'Driscoll (0-3), B Hurley (0-2), C O'Driscoll, C Dorman (0-1 each)
Scorers for Kerry: K Donaghy, T Walsh (1-0 each); B. J. Keane (0-5, 2 frees), A Fitzgerald (0-2), S O'Brien, P Crowley (0-1 each)
CORK: 1. K O'Halloran; 2 J Loughrey 6 S O'Donoghue 4 T Clancy (Clonakilty); 7 J. O'Sullivan 3. M Shields 5 Tomás Clancy (Fermoy); 8 E Cadogan, 9 F Goold; 12 C O'Driscoll 11 J O'Rourke 10 K O'Driscoll; 13 C O'Neill 14 M Collins 15 B Hurley
Subs for Cork: D O'Connor for O'Rourke (48); C Dorman for Tomás Clancy (51); P Kerrigan for C O'Driscoll (56); J Hayes for O'Neill (62); D Goulding for Hurley (62); N Galvin for Clancy (64).
KERRY: 1 B Kealy; 2 P Kilkenny, 3 M Griffin, 4 F. Fitzgerald; 5 J Lyne, 6 J Sherwood, 7 P. Murphy; 8 A Maher 9 D Moran; 10 M Geaney, 11 B Sheehan 12 J Buckley; 13 S O'Brien 14 K Donaghy 15 BJ Keane
Subs for Kerry: K Young for Murphy (black card, 11); P Crowley for Sherwood (20); T Walsh for Sheehan (20); A Fitzgerald for Maher (inj, half-time); S Enright for Fitzgerald (41); P O'Donoghue for Moran (62).
Referee: A Nolan (Wicklow)