They were bowed, bloodied yet ultimately unbroken.
And Steve Cotterill admitted he was a relieved man after Pompey survived a first-half savaging to emerge as unlikely winners.
Ipswich were rampant in the opening 45 minutes as they relentlessly tore into the Blues.
They could have been three or four clear at the break, such was their dominance.
But instead, Pompey somehow managed to scramble in at the interval with their goal intact.
And that provided the springboard to an improved performance after the break as they ran out 2-0 winners at Portman Road.
The home fans left shaking their heads in disbelief at the final result.
And Cotterill conceded he had been desperate to get his wilting side in at the break with the scoreline still blank.
He said: ‘It was a tough game and we had to hang on in there in the first half to be fair.
‘They were red hot in the first half and we were obviously pleased to get into the break at 0-0.
‘Jamie made a couple of good saves – which we want him to do – while the defenders got some blocks in.
‘It took us a little bit of time to get to grips with their system.
‘But half-time gave us a bit more time to adjust things.
‘I can calm people down and explain it to them because when there is 20,000-plus people there it is very difficult to get to them.
‘You want to settle them down, talk to them about a few things tactically, tell them where we need to be a little bit better.
‘When it’s 25 minutes gone on the clock, you want to get in at half-time.
‘You hope that once you do you can change it into the second half and thankfully we did.
‘We felt we would get stronger in the second half because we’ve got good legs and good running in the team.
‘That was the case in the second half.
‘We didn’t give in, the key when you come away from home is staying in the game and we stayed in the game.’
Once David Nugent opened the scoring in the 55th minute, it was always going to be Pompey’s match.
Ipswich struggled to maintain their first-half tempo after slipping behind and David Cotterill wrapped up matters in the 77th minute.
For all Ipswich’s dominance in the opening 45 minutes, Pompey bossed the match in the second period and Cotterill was delighted with their resilience.
He added: ‘In the second half we were stronger, got our chances and were ruthless.
‘I thought we were better and had more of a cutting edge and that proved to be in the difference in the game in the end.
‘Our finishing was really good, the two goals we scored were excellent.
‘We’ve just got to keep it going now. There is energy in the team, they are young, they are vibrant, they are getting on very well and they have knitted together.
‘It would just be nice if we had them all and they were all our players.’