Dublin recovered from a disastrous first half, coming from behind to defeat Wexford after extra-time to book their place in the Leinster SFC semi-finals.
Pat Gilroy’s side turned a seven points deficit into a seven points win, but the boss will be seriously concerned over the ineptitude displayed by his side in an opening 35 minutes that drew boos and jeers from their supporters among a crowd of 49,757 at Croke Park.
The Dubs clearly had difficulty in adapting to the new style of play embraced by Gilroy, despite the fact that they had embraced a more defensive strategy with considerable success during the National League.
Totally outplayed in the opening half, Dublin looked to be on their way to a first Leinster Championship defeat since 2004, but they turned the game around, despite being reduced to 13 men late in normal time.
Wexford displayed all the hunger and desire in the opening half, running confidently at an inept Dublin side, often with little or no resistance.
The Dubs scored just two first half points, both from Bernard Brogan, and could find no way to break down a tenacious Wexford defence.
Much had been made of the new Dublin defensive strategy, but it was their opponents who got men behind the ball and broke from the back with searing pace to set up scoring opportunities.
Matty Forde, returning from a two-year injury nightmare, swept over four frees, three of them from 45 metres, while Redmond Barry drilled a ’45 between the posts.
Eric Bradley and Ciaran Lyng also hit the target, while Pat Gilroy reacted to his side’s problems at midfield by calling Eamon Fennell ashore after just 21 minutes.
Still, they failed to spark, displaying an apparent lack of appetite and direction, their support play vastly superior to that of Jason Ryan’s side.
As the Dublin players left the field with a 0-8 to 0-2 deficit at the interval, they were jeered by their own supporters.
Derision on the Hill grew louder when Forde stretched Wexford’s lead, and the Dubs shot a succession of wides, some of them well off the mark.
Paul Flynn did manage to hit the target from a difficult angle, and Dublin spirits received a much-needed lift when substitute Alan Brogan landed a superb point.
Bernard Brogan reduced the deficit to four in the 53rd minute when he blazed over after Anthony Masterson had saved from Eoghan O’Gara, and finally, there was a sense that the tide was turning.
Substitutes O’Gara and Michael Dara McAuley added a spark to Dublin’s attacking dynamic, and despite the straight red card dismissal of wing back Denis Bastic in the 57th minute, they continued to prosper.
The breakthrough came just a minute later when Bernard Brogan collected Conal Keaney’s superb pass to crash home a goal, and they took the lead for the first time in the 64th minute through Keaney.
But Forde came to Wexford’s rescue, his sixth converted free making it 1-9 to 0-12, and for the second time on a drama-packed afternoon, Croke Park went to extra-time.
The Dubs, who had finished with 13 men following a second booking to Ger Brennan in stoppage time, were restored to the full complement of 15, with Tomas Quinn and Bryan Cullen joining the action.
Bernard Brogan grabbed his second goal, hitting the roof of the net after Quinn’s shot for a point had come back off a post two minutes into extra-time, and midway through added time, Dublin led by 2-11 to 0-12.
Wexford had given their all, and had nothing left in the tank as Quinn reeled off four points and the Dubs stormed into the last four.
Dublin: S Cluxton, M Fitzsimons, Rory O'Carroll, P McMahon, D Bastick, C O'Sullivan, B Cahill, E Fennell, R McConnell, N Corkery, D Henry, P Flynn (0-1), C Keaney (0-2, 1f), B Brogan (2-4, 0-1f), K McManamon.
Subs: G Brennan for O’Sullivan, A Brogan (0-2) for Fennell, E O’Gara for McManamon, M McAuley (0-1) for Henry, T Quinn (0-4, 1f), B Cullen (0-1), Fennell for Corkery, K Nolan (0-1) for Flynn, P Andrews for B Brogan
Wexford: A Masterson, J Wadding, G Molloy, B Malone, C Morris, D Murphy, A Doyle, D Waters, E Bradley (0-1), S Roche (0-2), R Barry (0-2, 1 ‘5), A Flynn (0-1), C Lyng (0-1), PJ Banville (0-1), M Forde (0-7, 7f).
Subs: D Fogarty for Waters, A Morrissey for Doyle, B Doyle for Bradley, C Byrne for Morris
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh)