David Healy sealed a famous victory against Spain by becoming the first Northern player in 15 years to score a hat-trick.
The Leeds striker was on the mark once in the first half and twice in the second period to stun one of football's top nations in Belfast.
Fittingly this stunning success came on the eve of the anniversary of last year's triumph against England, which was equally unlikely.
Healy got the winner that night and has now scored 23 goals in 52 games for his country - an impressive record.
Lawrie Sanchez's side certainly enjoyed their latest success, and came back out onto the Windsor Park pitch after the game to soak up the adulation with a lap of honour.
Yet the game had started badly with Roy Carroll, making his first start since October 2004, lasting only 11 minutes.
He pulled up after making a clearance and was replaced by Maik Taylor.
Jonny Evans of Manchester United made his debut at the back while Burnley's Kyle Lafferty partnered Healy up front.
Northern Ireland almost made a flying start when Michael Duff whipped in a cross from the right but Healy just failed to get a vital touch.
Predictably, though, Spain make the breakthrough in the 14th minute and scored their 1,000 goal through Xavi.
He got on the end of a cross from Antonio Lopez to thump a shot into the corner.
It was an early blow for Northern Ireland coming in the wake of the defeat by Iceland at the weekend.
However the province regrouped and equalised in the 20th minute when Healy pounced on a mistake by Xabi Alonso to score from close range.
The goal came after Lafferty had flicked on a long free-kick from Taylor.
Spain, clearly rattled, made a change in the 29th minute when Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas replaced David Albelda.
Northern Ireland were growing in confidence and no more so than Steven Davis.
Not only was he putting in a solid shift in midfield, he was not afraid to showcase his skills.
Spain, however, looked dangerous on the break and Fabregas powered in a shot in the 35th minute that was deflected to safety.
Then Xabi Alonso strode forward but saw his effort from distance clear the bar.
Lafferty then went close in stoppage time, heading marginally over the top following a cross from Davis.
Spain made one chance at half-time with Michel Salgado coming on for Sergio Ramos.
Lafferty found himself in the clear in the 49th minute but mishit his effort and saw it go wide.
Then Keith Gillespie fired in a shot from the edge of the area that went narrowly over the top.
Spain went back in front in the 52nd minute through David Villa after a neat through ball from Fabregas.
Lafferty looked to be struggling with a knock and was replaced by James Quinn a minute later.
Liverpool's Luis Garcia was then introduced into the action in the 63rd minute, replacing Fernando Torres.
Northern Ireland, however, showed their fighting spirit in the 65th minute to make it 2-2.
Sammy Clingan shaped to play a free-kick from the right into the box but instead sent it short along the floor to Healy.
He reacted superbly to fire a shot into the corner and send the crowd wild.
There was another scare for Northern Ireland in the 74th minute when Raul's shot came back off the post with Taylor beaten.
Incredibly Healy sealed the points for Northern Ireland in the 79th minute when he completed a hat-trick with a cool finish.
He lobbed the ball over Iker Casillas from 25 yards after a long clearance from Taylor to become the first Northern Ireland player since Colin Clarke in 1991 to get a treble.
Then with two minutes left Taylor parried a shot from Carles Puyol to prevent Spain getting a point.