STAND-IN skipper Vikram Solanki conceded his side had been "comfortably outplayed" as they were thrashed by 178 runs at Essex.
Chasing what would have been a record 40-over target of 313 to win after choosing to field first at Chelmsford, the visitors collapsed to 134 all out.
Graham Napier took seven Surrey wickets, including four in four balls in a brilliant 25th over of the innings, and a dejected Solanki admitted his side were second best.
"It's very disappointing," he said. "We were pretty much outplayed. There was one outstanding performance from the opposition, Napier had a pretty decent night out but we were comfortably outplayed.
"All facets if you think about it, they played a pretty complete game and we were just slightly short in our skills.
"And when we lost the early wickets having to chase a big total as was required it was always going to be difficult. Then obviously Graham Napier managed to get the ball to move laterally and was able to put us under pressure in that middle phase when we were trying to recover."
Surrey elected to field after winning the toss, meaning they would be batting under lights.
It was on the same track that the home side had amassed their 40-over record score of 368-7 against Scotland 24 hours previously, but Essex coach Paul Grayson admitted he had been undecided about whether his side would have batted or bowled had they won the toss.
Solanki added: "I had a little bit of hesitation, but those are decisions that have been made.
"We can sort of harp on about them if you like, but the fact of the matter is that we were outplayed."
Essex openers Hamish Rutherford (18) and Tom Westley (34) got the Eagles off to a solid start with an opening stand worth 48 in 7.1 overs, but when they fell, Mark Pettini and Ravi Bopara – released from the England ODI squad to play – put on 70 for the third wicket.
The spin of Gary Keedy did for Pettini on 43, but that brought Owais Shah to the crease.
He and Bopara put on 54 before the latter holed out off Azhar Mahmood for 54, and Ryan ten Doeschate came and went for 12 before Shah and James Foster came together.
The pair batted for just 3.3 overs but in that time amassed 56, with Foster's inventive stroke play eventually bringing him 39 from 18 balls, while Shah made 68 from 53 deliveries.
Both fell to Jon Lewis, the pick of the bowlers with 3-57, but it was a night to forget for Tom Jewell, whose three overs went for 43 runs as Essex closed on 312/7.
In reply, Napier took his first wicket with his second ball, bowling Jason Roy for two, and when Steve Davies fell for 14, Essex sensed blood with the score at 32-2.
That brought Ricky Ponting to the crease but his first one-day knock in Surrey colours lasted just five balls – and brought two runs – before Napier knocked his middle stump out of the ground.
Solanki was then cleaned up by Reece Topley to leave Surrey 51-4.
Garry Wilson and Mahmood regrouped nicely, putting on 62 in 12 overs, but the required run rate had already crept up to more than two a ball before the 25th over – an over which will live long in the memory of those at the ground.
It began with a dot ball, and then four wickets in the next four balls as Napier bowled Mahmood, had de Bruyn and Jewell trapped lbw and then bowled Lewis as well.
Surrey were reeling at 113-8, and Napier removed Stuart Meaker for his seventh – career-best one-day figures for the 33-year-old – before David Masters rounded things off by having Keedy lbw to secure a handsome win for the Eagles.
On Napier's great over, a rueful Solanki added: "It was a great over. It doesn't happen too often.
"The other guys as well, they executed their skills better than us and that's why we're on the receiving end."