Police are searching for the thugs who inflicted life-changing injuries on a man in a shopping centre car park.
PSNI Detective Inspector Chris Millar described the attack on Newtownabbey man Anthony McMahon (59) as "breathtakingly violent".
Mr McMahon was found in a pool of blood at Longwood Road near the Abbey Centre at around 10.30pm on Tuesday.
Unconscious and barely breathing, he had sustained severe head and facial injuries.
A passing PSNI patrol administered emergency first aid as they waited for paramedics to arrive.
Last night police said Mr McMahon's family had given permission for his name to be released to help jog the memory of anyone who may have information.
DI Millar said: "The injuries sustained by Mr McMahon are such that he was left unrecognisable to even his closest family members and will now have to undergo reconstructive surgery.
"His injuries are much more than serious, they are life-changing.
"We are appealing for the assistance of the public in tracking down the vicious perpetrators of this brutal and sustained attack.
"We would like to hear from anyone who was in the Longwood Road area on Tuesday night.
"Whether you were just passing through, visiting the retail park or were there for any other reason, you may be able to help us.
"Did you see Anthony McMahon on Tuesday night? We understand from family and friends that he is a well-known and well-liked individual in the local area.
"We are issuing CCTV images of Anthony on the day he was attacked, wearing the same clothes he was found in, to help jog people's memories."
Describing the ferocity of the beating, Mr Millar added: "I cannot stress enough just how breathtakingly violent and wicked this assault was.
"Please call 101 if you have any information, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.
"Help us identify the ruthless and cowardly criminal or criminals who carried out this vile attack."
Local Ulster Unionist councillor John Scott described the assault on Mr McMahon as "disgraceful".
He added: "This was so bad and so cruel. I understand Mr McMahon was in the operating theatre yesterday for surgery on his face after the dreadful beating he was given."
Police are scanning CCTV from shops close to where the attack took place, Mr Scott revealed.
"If anyone knows anything about this terrible incident, please get in touch with the police," he added.