Like against Thanasi Kokkinakis in Melbourne a year ago, he found himself two sets to love down.
No player in the men’s game has come back from such a position to win more than Murray but there was to be no great escape on this occasion as Etcheverry comfortably won 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
The five-time Australian Open finalist had matched his Argentinian opponent closely in the opening set but, after that, his game seemed to escape him.
His serve was ineffective, he was undone by unforced errors and his movement looked limited at times, leading to question marks over his fitness. At 36, it also led to speculation whether this might yet be his last Australian Open appearance.
Murray was broken in his opening service game but broke straight back in a tight first set, which finally swung in Etcheverry’s favour when he broke after 50 minutes to go 4-3 ahead when a Murray forehand limply found the net.
Early breaks again went against Murray in the next two sets but on neither occasion could he fight his way back into the contest.
Following the second set, he took timeout for a brief pep talk with coach Mark Hilton but it did little to alter the malaise.
And it quickly became clear that the Melbourne crowd were not set to watch a Murray comeback late into the night as had been the case against Kokkinakis a year ago.
In total, Murray hit 37 unforced errors, more than double that of his last opponent. The pair had played each other twice over three sets last season, both lasting in excess of three hours. This was all over in two-and-a-half hours.
Afterwards Etcheverry: "It was an incredible match for me. It's very tough to play with a legend like Andy. He's one of my idols. We played two times last year and it was a long battle."