West Ham boss Sam Allardyce signalled his intention to launch an emergency recruitment drive for defenders after seeing his injury-hit side run ragged at Sunderland.
West Ham slipped to a 3-0 Premier League defeat at the Stadium of Light with James Collins limping off in agony with a grade three hamstring tear to join George McCartney and Joey O'Brien on the sidelines.
Sunderland went ahead after 12 minutes when Sebastian Larsson smashed home a left-foot piledriver, his first goal of the season, and they never looked back as the Hammers succumbed with barely a whimper.
Adam Johnson doubled their advantage within two minutes of the restart when he cashed in on Dan Potts' error, and James McClean made sure of the points with a third 16 minutes from time.
Allardyce, who saw his side only just fail to beat Manchester United last weekend, was particularly concerned about the comedy of errors which led to the second goal, which effectively killed off the game.
"Just look at it, it was pathetic, wasn't it? We have a free-kick and we let the opposition score," he said.
"It was really an all-round performance that makes life extremely difficult for me to accept the performance I have seen, based on how well we played just seven days ago against Manchester United."
Martin O'Neill was more than satisfied with a victory which lifted his side six points clear of the relegation zone. "The win was important for us. I think anybody in the bottom half of the table still has to be looking anxiously over their shoulder.
"I think it's our fourth in seven games in the Premier League and in the context of things, it was good to win."
O'Neill confirmed that Senegal international defender Kader Mangane is heading for Wearside in the hope of clinching a loan deal until the end of the season.