The US quartet of Mike Rodgers, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Ryan Bailey did what so many of their predecessors have failed to do in this event in recent years, get the baton round cleanly, and that allowed them the opportunity to inflict a morale-boosting defeat on the favoured Jamaicans, the Americans winning in 37:38.
It was the equal-seventh fastest performance in history and a time only other US and Jamaican teams have ever beaten.
Jamaica was left training in the wake of the US runners from midway down the back straight and the 2014 World Relays winners were left to settle for second on this occasion in 37.68.
He remains a polarising figure in the sport but Justin Gatlin has to be given credit for delivering the win with a blistering second leg, by pulling away from Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole almost immediately after the first exchange and then putting a huge margin between himself and the rest of the field.
Tyson Gay consolidated the US lead around the bend and handed over more than five metres in front to Ryan Bailey.
Even for a sprinter of the stunning talent of Usain Bolt, this was too big a margin to make up and though he reduced the deficit by a metre or so, in the end the reigning world and Olympic champion in the 100m and 200m was a minor player in this drama.