Both the army and the courts have now come out in opposition to President Mohammed Morsi's decree to have parliament reconvene. But the Muslim Brotherhood, who run the legislature, are ignoring both.
In sign the standoff would not end swiftly, Brotherhood officials were quick on Tuesday to question the court's right to rule against the president's decree and vowing to fight on.
"I invited you to convene in accordance with the decree issued by the president," said parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, a Brotherhood man like Mursi, had told parliament.
But many liberal groups - heavily outnumbered by Islamists in parliament - boycotted Tuesday's session, saying Mursi's decree was a violation of the powers of the judiciary.
Then, just hours after lawmakers gathered, the supreme court issued a fresh order: "The court ruled to halt the president's decision to recall the parliament," Maher el-Beheiry, the court's chief justice, said.
Egypt's troubled transition to democracy is increasingly being fought in the courts, but that masks a much deeper conflict with an establishment rooted in six decades of military rule, half of that period under the leadership of Mubarak.
Senior Brotherhood official Mahmoud Ghozlan said the latest court ruling was linked to the army: "It is part of a power struggle between the military council and the president who represents the people and in which the military council is using the law and the judiciary to impose its will," he told Reuters.
In a war of attrition that may play out over years, Islamists long suppressed by Mubarak and his military predecessors are seeking to push generals out of politics and reform a wider establishment still filled with Mubarak-era officials.
Protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which had gathered in support of Mursi's decree earlier in the evening, swiftly turned to chants against the court ruling: "Void, void," they shouted.
The Brotherhood signaled it would not retreat.
The court is in the military's pocket, but would probably have ruled that way anyway. The interpretation is that the courts dissolved the entire parliament when they invalidated 1/3 of the elections. Morsi's decree is being seen by some as a power grab by the Brotherhood who are seeking to delegitimze the court.
The Islamists don't need the liberals for anything so it is likely the standoff will continue for a while.