Salford Red Devils 29 Hull FC 22: Improvement not enough against Marc Sneyd-inspired hosts
Hull have closed the gap in the intervening period but Tony Smith will be the first to admit they still have some way to go to compete at the top end of Super League.
Smith's side gave as good as they got in the rematch at the AJ Bell Stadium and on another day may have come out on the right side of an entertaining encounter.
But they lacked the smarts to get over the line on an afternoon when Marc Sneyd came back to haunt his old club once again.
The former Hull half-back was the architect of Salford's 60-14 demolition at the MKM Stadium in March and stood up in the key moments for his side on Sunday.
The Black and Whites knew the game was up when Sneyd knocked over a trademark drop goal four minutes from time to go with his try, two assists and four goals.
A first defeat in five matches leaves Hull six points adrift of the play-off positions at the halfway mark of the season.
It had started so well for Smith's men after opening the scoring inside four minutes.
After seeing Salford ship 40 points in the Challenge Cup victory over Huddersfield Giants, the Black and Whites tested their hosts early and were rewarded for their enterprise.
A well-worked move to the left put Adam Swift into open field and Jake Clifford did the rest after racing through in support.
Smith's team got the chance to showcase their new-found defensive resolve to keep Salford out but the warning signs were there, Tex Hoy having to be alert to save a certain try with Joe Burgess racing on to a smart kick by Sneyd.
Hull KR target Tyler Dupree, whose week began with Salford rejecting his transfer request, was the man to get the hosts back in it.
The prop forced Hoy into an error on a kick return and crashed over under the posts in the next set from Sneyd's inside ball after showing good footwork.
The Black and Whites were back in the ascendancy when Sam Stone followed up a mistake close to his own line with a soft attempt to give Jake Trueman the chance to dummy his way over for his first try as a Hull player.
When Clifford converted to give the visitors a 10-4 lead after 22 minutes, the afternoon was going to plan.
But a series of errors and penalties gave Salford all the encouragement they needed as they took control of the contest.
A forward pass by Darnell McIntosh left Hull under the pump and they eventually buckled after defending set after set on their line, Deon Cross touching down Brodie Croft's neat early kick.
Sneyd knocked over his second goal to edge Salford ahead for the first time before Ryan Brierley had a try ruled out after Ken Sio was adjudged to have offloaded off the ground.
The Salford full-back got his try when he raced through to finish Sneyd's perfectly weighted kick from a scrum play just outside his 30.
Sneyd's conversion gave the Red Devils an 18-10 lead at the break but the hosts were immediately under pressure when Burgess fumbled the kick-off.
Hull made the winger pay for his mistake when Trueman sent McIntosh over with a superb floated pass.
Clifford knocked over the conversion to make it a two-point game but Salford did what they do best with a scintillating counter-attack.
Cross' break took the Red Devils deep into Hull territory before Sneyd exchanged passes with Stone to score what appeared to be a decisive fourth converted try.
But McIntosh came up with a timely interception to swing the momentum back Hull's way.
Salford found themselves backpeddling and could not hold the Black and Whites out, Clifford sending Josh Griffin over with a classy pass just after the hour mark.
Clifford added the extras to reduce the deficit to 24-22 and set up a grandstand finish.
Hull went set for set with their hosts but were held at arm's length by the Red Devils. When they did chance their arm, McIntosh's offload was pouched by Chris Atkin.
Croft stepped forward at a crucial moment to put more daylight between the sides, with his sublime long pass giving Sio a simple finish.
Sneyd missed the touchline conversion and a penalty from the halfway line after Clifford made a mess of the restart but the half-back held his nerve to slot over a drop goal.
Clifford missed a penalty and the chance to set up a nervy final minute before Sneyd was sin-binned for a professional foul, the last act of an otherwise faultless display.
Salford Red Devils: Brierley, Sio, Cross, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Dupree, Ackers, Vuniyayawa, Watkins, Stone, Partington. Substitutes: Atkin, Ormondroyd, Sidlow, Hellewell.
Hull FC: Hoy, Swift, Sutcliffe, Scott, McIntosh, Trueman, Clifford, Fash, Houghton, Sao, Griffin, Lane, Cator. Substitutes: Brown, Dwyer, Satae, Taylor.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.