Clinical finishing was the difference at the Forest Town Arena as Stocksbridge Park Steels took all three points despite AFC dominating the game.
Strikes from Scott Ruthven and Luke Mangham earned the visitors a two-goal lead at the break against the run of play, but despite Charlie Dawes' late penalty the Bulls couldn't muster a full comeback.
The first real chance of the game fell to the visitors, as Liam Marsden denied a Stocksbridge attacker on the line from point-blank range after Alex Wiles delivered a dangerous low ball across goal.
The hosts' first chance came eight minutes later, as Jon Froggatt's tame header was caught by David Robson.
A defensive error allowed the visitors to take the lead, as Luke Mangham pounced on a loose ball and darted down the left before pulling back for Scott Ruthven, who expertly fired into Jason White's top right corner.
Two big chances came within the space of three minutes for the Bulls, as Julian Lawrence fired over from eight yards out before Cameron Dear drove Jimmy Ghaichem's lay-off inches wide of David Robson's post.
AFC were then dealt a sucker-punch blow in the final act of the first half, as Mangham headed a corner home at the back post completely against the run of play.
Jordan Lemon almost made it three to the good for Stocksbridge with just four minutes of second-half football played, as he saw his driven effort canon off the post and along the goal line.
The Bulls continued to press and play good football against a resolute Park Steels defence, being limited to half-chances on numerous occasions.
Returning midfielder Phil Buxton almost halved the deficit on 66 minutes, volleying just wide after latching onto Cameron Dear's attempted strike.
AFC were finally presented a clear chance to get back into the game with 10 minutes to go, as Alex Wiles brought down Charlie Dawes in the penalty area.
Dawes himself stepped up and put the ball down the middle of the goal, and the Bulls were suddenly half way there.
But fortunes were just not favouring the Bulls on this occasion, with Jon Froggatt somehow firing wide with a close-range overhead kick after Julian Lawrence headed the ball down, before Jason White had to be at his best to stop an attempted lob from Wiles with his fingertips.
Stocksbridge's clinical finishing in the first half helped them earn all three points, and AFC's tireless performance went unrewarded.
The Bulls turn their attention to another midweek fixture, as they travel to Marske United on Tuesday night.
Final score | AFC Mansfield 1-2 Stocksbridge Park Steels
Scorers | Dawes (80' pen) - Ruthven (29'), Mangham (46'+1)
AFC Mansfield XI | White, Marsden, Dudley (D'Laryea 78'), Buxton, Lawrence, Annable, Deaar, Ghaichem (C), Froggatt, Broadhead, Wall (Dawes 61')
Unused substitutes | Jumma
Yellow cards | N/A
Red cards | N/A
Stocksbridge Park Steels XI | Robson, Lemon, Coleman, Turner, McFayden (C), Fielding (Charlesworth 68'), Wiles, Langton, Ruthven (Rhodes (81'), Morris (Frost 62'), Mangham
Unused substitutes | Swinburn, Thompson
Yellow cards | Mangham (51') Frost (82')
Red cards | N/A
Man-of-the-Match | Julian Lawrence
Attendance | 71