Team England were denied a first appearance in a Commonwealth Games gold medal final as reigning champions New Zealand scored with one second left on the clock, to snatch victory in Glasgow.
Despite trailing in each of the final three quarters, the Kiwis set up a fifth successive final appearance against either world number one Australia, or Jamaica, after Maria Tutaia's last gasp goal secured a 35-34 win.
Anna Mayes' team, who lost to Australia in similar circumstances in the pool stage, will have to settle for a bronze medal play-off against the loser of the second semi-final in the knowledge they were agonizingly close to the final.
"Unfortunately, we've lost concentration in each of those three quarters which has allowed New Zealand to come back into the game," Mayes said.
"I think we need to deal with the emotions that we have now and that is something we will be doing behind closed doors because I think it is important that we stay united as a team.
"We will deal with it because you can't just skirt around it. We are gutted because we genuinely thought we could go into the gold medal final but we'll come out all guns blazing."
Having plundered 337 points across their five group matches, New Zealand had sauntered into the semi-final with a 100% record and were favourites to reach a fifth successive final at the Commonwealth Games.
Meanwhile, England – the perennial bridesmaid of the netball competition having claimed bronze at three of the four Games since the sport was introduced in 1998 – had only lost to two-time winners Australia in the pool stage.
Mayes' team however had genuine pedigree coming into the last four clash, having registered a series whitewash over Australia in 2013.
The opening quarter produced everything to be expected from a semi-final at a major tournament, with turnovers, errors and nerves dominating proceedings as neither team could be separated during the opening 15 minutes.
The momentum had seemingly shifted in England's direction in the second quarter as Joanne Harten and Kadeen Corbin helped put them into a commanding six-point lead.
But a late comeback from the Silver Ferns – capitalising on their opponents' ill-discipline – put the two-time gold medallists a point ahead going into half time.
With a tri-series victory over England already in 2014, New Zealand had good reason to believe they could convert their lead at the interval into a fifth-successive final appearance.
Once again, England stormed into healthy advantage but unable to improve on their 78% shooting accuracy, New Zealand staged an impressive comeback, leveling the scores at 29-29 with a quarter remaining.
The three-time bronze medalists opened up another healthy lead but New Zealand leveled again with three minutes left and amid a deluge of late pressure, Tutaia scored to break England hearts.