The BIG question of the star-studded MTV Video Awards was: Would Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake get it back on, or resume going it alone?

The answer: They avoided each other like the P-L-A-G-U-E. Bouncy Britney kicked up her stiletto heels and slipped out a side door of Radio City Music Hall early — just so she wouldn’t be around when her former boytoy took the stage to debut his solo singing act.

It just wasn’t Justin’s night. After performing “Like I Love You,” from his upcoming “Justified” CD, he got an unjustified verbal pounding. “Eminem and his posse gave poor Justin a brutal going over,” a backstage spy told us. “They accused him of lip-synching his acoustic rhythm song, and then they were calling him ‘Baby Michael,’ a reference to Justin allegedly stealing some moves from Michael Jackson. They were mean!”

The most coveted party tickets were gold pieces of cardboard that got stars and wanna-bes into the extravaganza thrown by P. Diddy. The ego-inflated music/fashion mogul billed it as “The Greatest Party of All Time” and issued a STRICT dress-and-hygiene code: Pedicures were a MUST for ladies; scruffy hair and scuffed shoes a NO-NO for men. The Man himself looked sharp in a tux as topless acrobats swung from ropes — obviously exempt from the dress code.

Talk about a FAST worker! Enrique Iglesias was locked in a love match at Radio City with tennis hottie Anna Kournikova, but just a day earlier, he sat for hours at a party with young singer Michelle Branch. One witness tattled, “They were hugging all night.” Then after the MTV show, Enrique and Anna got so hot ‘n’ heavy at the swanky Cafe St. Barts that an onlooker shouted, “Why don’t you get a room!”

Harried MTV execs went to great lengths to keep rival rockers Sammy Hagar and David Lee Roth safely apart — because they detest each other even though they are touring together.

First, Sammy and his bodyguards met the press, then 10 minutes later when he was safely out of sight, in waltzed David. Their keepers are under strict instructions never to allow them to be in the same room together. Roth revealed that sometimes the two former Van Halen stars have to build a wall in their dressing room to keep them apart! However, the pair managed to share the stage to present an award without coming to blows.