CITY'S Irn-Bru Third Division play-off hopes are now back in the melting pot after nearest rivals Annan Athletic came from behind at Borough Briggs to snatch a 2-1 win.
A third straight defeat leaves the Black and Whites just two points clear of the Borderers with three games left, while Stuart Leslie became the third player red-carded in the last five outings.
As expected, John Calder replaced suspended No 1 Zander Clark, while Daniel Moore failed a late fitness test to miss out for only the second time this season.
Returning to starting places after last week's drubbing at Alloa were Jamie Duff, Stuart Leslie, Brian Cameron and Craig Gunn.
Archie MacPhee, Barry Wilson, Paul McMullan and Graeme Beveridge dropped to the bench as Ross Jack's side sought the three points which would virtually secure fourth spot and a play-off place.
And they got off to the perfect start with an opener in six mintues from Paul Millar but Annan, who were comfortably beaten 3-0 by City last month, turned the game on its head with a double to take the lead before the interval.
But hopes of retrieving the situation took a huge blow when Leslie, making a first start in four games, picked up a second yellow card right on the stroke of half-time.
Another big, expectant crowd turned out in the hope of seeing City quickly get back on the rails and they were rewarded when Paul MILLAR headed the opener from an Alex Cooper free kick after just six minutes.
Cooper almost doubled City's lead four minutes later when his back post header off Cameron's cross was blocked by Mitchell, but the promising start soon gave way to despair.
The visitors dragged themselves level in 26 minutes when Jordan McKECHNIE pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the box to fire low past Calder.
Things went from bad to worse as half-time approached, with Graeme BELL getting the credit for diverting home the second in 38 minutes after Calder had parried a Cox shot.
And then, with seconds of the half remaining and thoughts doubtless on the interval cuppa and the chance to regroup, the red mist enveloped Stuart Leslie.
Having been needlessly booked earlier, the City midfielder dived in on Annan's MacBeth under the nose of the assistant referee with the inevitable outcome.
Going a player down was the last thing City needed and Annan set out their stall after the break. The visitors looked content to hold what they had, allowing the hosts plenty of possession, but chances were few and far between.
The closest City came to levelling was in 65 minutes when Gunn released Cooper, but Mitchell was equal to the on-loan Ross County midfielder's parting effort.
Annan looked to have notched a third in 78 minutes when substitute Gilfillan headed home a Cox free kick, but the flag had been raised for offside.
In the event, the decision had no bearing on the final outcome and City were once again left to lick lick their wounds after another below par home performance.
Elgin City – Calder, Niven, O'Donoghue (Wilson 82), Durnan (MacPhee 64), Duff, Leslie, Gunn, Cameron (Beveridge 82), Millar, Nicolson, Cooper. Subs not used – Black, McMullan.
Annan Athletic – Mitchell, Muirhead, MacBeth Swinglehurst 79), Watson, McGowan, Sloan, Steele, Jardine (Winters 81), McKechnie, Bell (Gilfillan 71), Cox. Subs not used – Hyslop.
Ref – D Roache.
Att – 715.
(Match reort by Louise Shaw)