Brentford boss Thomas Frank was prepared to give Ivan Toney no more than 65 minutes against Bristol City to become the highest scorer ever in a Championship season.
With the upcoming play-offs in mind, Frank had no intention of giving his prized marksman a full game at Ashton Gate.
But Toney still claimed the record – the most goals in the second tier since it was rebranded as the Championship some 17 years ago – by netting his 31st of the campaign to break the deadlock after 57 minutes before giving way to substitute Bryan Mbeumo eight minutes later.
Mbeumo himself doubled the advantage at the end of a brilliant passing move, and five minutes later Sergi Canos shot home at the far post to send Brentford into the play-offs on a high.
City substitute Louis Britton marked his debut by netting with a low drive three minutes from time, but it was no more than a consolation for his outplayed team.
Frank said: “It was always the plan to replace Ivan when we did and he knew that before the game.
“I’m so delighted that he did break the record because he is humble with his talent and deserves all the success he gets.
“I named a strong side because I wanted to take the momentum of our good run into the play-offs.
“We did not pick up any injuries. Ethan Pinnock only played the first half because of a minor problem he was carrying, but he is fine.
“Whatever happens from now on, it has been another outstanding season for the players.”
Brentford’s win at City saw them finish with 87 points but that was only enough to earn them third place, with champions Norwich ending up with 97 points and Watford 91.
Frank, whose side also scored a league-leading 79 goals, added: “Our points tally would normally be enough for automatic promotion and we have again scored the most goals in the Championship.
“We will have a few beers tonight and then they will have three days off before preparing for what I am sure will be a tight tie of fine margins with Bournemouth.
“I have a good feeling about the play-offs, but the same was true last season. When you reach this stage the lines between success and failure are so slim.
“One mistake or a single decision going against you can make the difference.”
City, meanwhile, finished down in 19th spot on 51 points – eight above the relegation zone – after failing to win any of their last 10 matches.
Boss Nigel Pearson said: “It has been a season of two contrasting halves for the club because it began with promise, but we have had too many injuries and fitness is something we need to address.
“We have had to rely too much on young players and, while we have some very bright prospects, it is important we don’t demand too much of them too soon.”
Looking ahead, Pearson said: “I have spoken to many of the players about their futures and the rest I will be meeting over the next few days.
“We will then issue a list of who is staying and which ones will be leaving. Today was another reality check and an indication of how much hard work lies ahead.
“I have to create a squad capable of meeting the challenges the Championship sets.
“At the moment we are not meeting those challenges and a lot of our talented youngsters are being exposed without the necessary experience alongside them.
“We will use pre-season to get the players we already have fitter and more robust, as well as bringing in new faces.
“There will also be new support staff brought in and it is going to be a very busy summer.”