Huddersfield took a huge step towards the League One play-off final with a deserved semi-final first leg victory at MK Dons.
Jordan Rhodes struck midway through the first half, guiding his header beyond Dons keeper David Martin.
Dean Lewington missed a superb chance to level from four yards out before Lee Novak squandered an opportunity to double the Terriers' lead.
But Jack Hunt's well-taken finish gave the away side a two-goal cushion.
The play-offs have been unkind to both sides in past campaigns - MK have failed to go beyond the semi-finals in three attempts, while the Terriers have fallen short at the post-season stage in the last two campaigns.
DID YOU KNOW?
Jordan Rhodes went into the game against MK Dons without a goal in his previous five appearances. His last goal completed a hat-trick in a 3-1 win at Leyton Orient on 3 April.
Only one point separated the clubs during the regular season - Huddersfield coming out on top - but Rhodes showed why he had netted more than double the number of goals than the Dons' highest scorer Dean Bowditch.
Rhodes's header from Novak's cross, shortly after substitute Kallum Higginbotham should have beat Martin, was guided perfectly into the far corner and took his tally to 39 for the season.
MK should have been level immediately after the break when Shaun Williams's free-kick fell to the feet of Lewington, but his point-blank strike cannoned off keeper Ian Bennett.
The 40-year-old custodian once again defied his years, pulling off a double save from Bowditch and Daniel Powell.
The home side's profligacy almost cost them dear when Rhodes's flick-on released Lee Novak, but he dragged wide when hitting the target seemed like a simple task.
Eventually MK, who were short of ideas all afternoon, were made to pay and it was courtesy of a moment of the highest quality.
A quick interchange between Hunt and Higginbotham down the right-hand side saw the former charge into the area and he dispatched a shot that wrong-footed Martin on its way into the net.
There was still time for Bennett to pull off a sharp save from a Jabo Ibehre header deep into injury time.
But Huddersfield, organised superbly by the determined Damien Johnson in midfield, rode out the final 10 minutes with little concern and will head back to West Yorkshire as clear favourites to progress to Wembley.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
MK Dons manager Karl Robinson:
"It was a really weird game. I thought there was nothing in at all.
"It was a stalemate with effort and passion. They didn't have a chance and next thing Rhodes pops up with a goal.
"And the second half was probably more in our favour. It's a sucker punch but there's a long way to go."
Huddersfield manager Simon Grayson:
"We're obviously delighted we've won the game, but more importantly with the level of performance we've put in.
"We worked extremely hard over the last 10 days or so on our game plan and every individual stuck to it.
"We were solid and broke quickly and they did what we asked them to do, and that's great as a manager."
Full Time The final whistle goes and the game is over.
Jabo Ibehre takes a shot. Save by Ian Bennett.
Jabo Ibehre challenges Peter Clarke unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ian Bennett.
Kallum Higginbotham takes the direct free kick.
Booking Adam Chicksen shown a yellow card.
Adam Chicksen challenges Damien Johnson unfairly and gives away a free kick.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Alan Lee by Dean Lewington. Daniel Ward takes the direct free kick.
Foul by James O'Shea on Tommy Miller, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Lee Novak.
Substitution Alan Lee joins the action as a substitute, replacing Jordan Rhodes.
The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by David Martin.
Corner from left by-line taken by James O'Shea.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by James O'Shea from the left by-line, Sean Morrison makes a clearance.
Corner taken left-footed by Shaun Williams, Lee Novak makes a clearance.
Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Dean Bowditch.
Substitution Jabo Ibehre comes on in place of Charlie MacDonald.
Assist by Kallum Higginbotham.
72:16 Goal scored
Goal! - Jack Hunt - MK Dons 0 - 2 Huddersfld Jack Hunt finds the back of the net with a goal from the edge of the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Milton Keynes Dons 0-2 Huddersfield.
Shaun Williams restarts play with the free kick.
Booking Tommy Miller is given a yellow card.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Tommy Miller on Daniel Powell.
Effort from the edge of the penalty area by Lee Novak goes wide of the left-hand post.
Corner taken short by Dean Bowditch.
Corner taken by Dean Bowditch from the left by-line, Ian Bennett makes a save.
Peter Clarke handles the ball and concedes a free kick. Shaun Williams takes the direct free kick.
The referee blows for offside. David Martin restarts play with the free kick.
James O'Shea produces a right-footed shot from long distance which goes wide right of the goal.
Substitution James O'Shea joins the action as a substitute, replacing Alan Smith.
Effort from the edge of the area by Dean Bowditch goes wide of the left-hand post.
Unfair challenge on Jordan Rhodes by Shaun Williams results in a free kick. Kallum Higginbotham restarts play with the free kick.
Free kick awarded for a foul by Damien Johnson on Dean Bowditch. The free kick is delivered right-footed by Stephen Gleeson from left channel, Tom Clarke manages to make a clearance.
Corner taken right-footed by Dean Bowditch from the left by-line, save by Ian Bennett.
Inswinging corner taken by Shaun Williams from the right by-line, clearance by Sean Morrison.
Corner from the right by-line taken by Shaun Williams, clearance by Sean Morrison.
Substitution Tom Clarke is brought on as a substitute for Calum Woods.
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Adam Chicksen by Kallum Higginbotham. Centre by Shaun Williams, Shot from 6 yards from Dean Lewington. Ian Bennett makes a save.
The second half begins.
45:00 +2:11 Half time
Half Time The ref blows to signal half-time.
Kallum Higginbotham gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Chicksen. Adam Chicksen restarts play with the free kick.
The referee blows for offside against Alan Smith. Ian Bennett restarts play with the free kick.
Dean Lewington fouled by Jordan Rhodes, the ref awards a free kick. David Martin takes the direct free kick.
Foul by Darren Potter on Daniel Ward, free kick awarded. Jack Hunt takes the direct free kick.
Dean Bowditch produces a right-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
Charlie MacDonald takes a shot. Blocked by Calum Woods. Inswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Dean Bowditch, clearance by Peter Clarke. Corner from the right by-line taken by Shaun Williams, clearance by Sean Morrison.
Foul by Sean Morrison on Dean Bowditch, free kick awarded. Stephen Gleeson takes the free kick.
Tommy Miller has an effort at goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the left-hand post.
Assist by Lee Novak.
31:52 Goal scored
Goal! - Jordan Rhodes - MK Dons 0 - 1 Huddersfld Jordan Rhodes finds the net with a headed goal from inside the box. Milton Keynes Dons 0-1 Huddersfield.
Kallum Higginbotham takes a shot. Save by David Martin.
Substitution Kallum Higginbotham on for Scott Arfield.
Dean Bowditch crosses the ball in from the free kick, save by Ian Bennett.
Booking Peter Clarke goes into the referee's book.
Peter Clarke gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Alan Smith.
Daniel Ward takes a shot from 18 yards. Save made by David Martin.
Effort from 35 yards by Shaun Williams. Save made by Ian Bennett.
Damien Johnson concedes a free kick for a foul on Daniel Powell. Darren Potter takes the free kick.
Jordan Rhodes gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Shaun Williams. Free kick taken by David Martin.
Inswinging corner taken left-footed by Daniel Ward from the right by-line, Alan Smith makes a clearance.
Handball by Daniel Powell. Direct free kick taken by Ian Bennett.
Calum Woods has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the goal.
Darren Potter gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Damien Johnson. Free kick taken by Jack Hunt.
Alan Smith produces a right-footed shot from the edge of the box and misses to the left of the goal.
The ball is sent over by Jack Hunt, save made by David Martin.
Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Dean Bowditch.
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