FIRM signs at Inchicore from St Patrick's Athletic of their intention to compete at the top end this season; yet more evidence of a trying campaign ahead for their capital rivals.
As has been the trend of their winless start to the season, Shelbourne held their own for spells of this Dublin derby – only to buckle when it counted most either side of half-time.
Doubters pointing to the Saints' lack of firepower in pre-season as reason to write off their title ambitions gained some justification when all of their four wins up to last night were delivered on 1-0 margins. Then came this rout – and the tally might easily have been double.
From the second minute, when John Russell's slaloming run led to a shot which flew just over, Liam Buckley's side were always in control, and Chris Forrester won't get an easier hat-trick.
Signs of trouble for Shels keeper Ger Hanley came on 20 minutes when he was relieved to see a Killian Brennan volley go wide.
The visitors perked up with a couple of Dean Kelly efforts midway through the half but the former Pat's man was denied by Dave Ryan.
Then came the capitulation Shels fans have become accustomed to this season and which sees them sit bottom of the table.
A minute before the break, Brian Shortall's clearance only found Forrester 25 yards out. The winger's shot was far from thunderous but caught out Hanley, who allowed the ball to spin from his grasp into the net.
Two more goals followed inside the opening nine minutes of the second half as Conan Byrne prodded home from six yards.
With his confidence soaring, Forrester fancied his chances of more and, on 56 minutes, he cut in from the left onto his favoured right foot and found the top corner.
Hanley was kept busy, saved by an offside flag when Brennan headed home, but he was culpable in allowing Forrester's third to drift through his legs and into the net eight minutes from time.
Next up for third-placed Pat's is the visit of leaders Sligo on Friday, while lowly Shels trek to Cork searching for scraps.
Chants of 'Mathews out' from the Shels supporters accompanied the full-time whistle, as questions continue over the manager's future.
ST PATRICK'S ATH – Ryan; O'Brien, Browne (Carroll 75), Kenna, Bermingham; Bolger (Maher 84); K Brennan, Russell; Byrne, Flood (Fagan 73), Forrester.
SHELBOURNE – Hanley; Flynn, Gartland, Shortall, Memery; S Brennan (Prizeman 64), Crowley, Hurley, Kelly; Bayly; Hughes.
Ref – D Tomney (Dublin).