Tottenham Hotspur are breaking from a jog into a sprint in their pursuit of the Champions League as Tim Sherwood's reputation as a manager continues to soar following this comfortable win over a forlorn Newcastle United side.
Newcastle have now lost five games in a row at home – four in the league for the first time since 1987 – and there is a depression engulfing the club that is showing little sign of shifting until owner Mike Ashley suggests he views it as something more than a vehicle to promote his other business interests.
Newcastle's once encouraging campaign has imploded. They have sold their best player, Yohan Cabaye, and not replaced him, suffered a handful of injuries and suspensions and lost all of the momentum they built up over the first half of the season.
Their manager Alan Pardew has more explaining to do, but he is also a victim of the owner's lack of ambition. In contrast, Tottenham's bold pre-season objectives are looking realistic once more.
Sherwood's appointment has had the desired impact at White Hart Lane, stabilising a team that looked incapable of making the most of the talent at its disposal under Andres Villas-Boas.
Sherwood deserves credit for bringing cohesion to the chaos of his predecessors final few weeks, but he has not proven anything yet.
That may seem harsh on a manager who has taken more points – 19 from 27 – in the Premier League since he took over in December than anyone other than Chelsea's Jose Mourinho, but this trip to Newcastle was the sort of test he needed to pass to convince people he is as bright a manager as he seems.
Tottenham last won here in 2004.
Tottenham craved a top-four finish in the summer and still crave one now. Sat fifth before this trip to Tyneside on a windy night that makes any away ground feel inhospitable, Spurs needed to offer evidence they can keep pace with Liverpool's ominous form.
The answer was yes. Spurs were superb in the first half, albeit against a Newcastle side suffering from both poor form and a lack of obvious motivation given their season is pretty much over in terms of excitement.
Newcastle had won just one game out of eight since Dec 28, losing six of them and they were beaten 3-0 by local rivals Sunderland the last time they stepped out at St James' Park.
That wound has not heeled and there was a flat atmosphere inside the stadium which turned into an unhappy one as soon as Spurs took the lead.
It did not take them long, Kyle Naughton galloping down the left flank after 19 minutes to send in a low cross that Tim Krul could only push into the path of Emmanuel Adebayor.
It was the striker's eighth goal in 12 games since Sherwood brought him back in from the cold and Spurs should have been even further in front before the break. Mousa Dembele had created a good opening for Adebayor inside five minutes, embarrassing left-back Davide Santon with his strength and skill to deliver a cross that the forward was just unable to convert.
Paulinho also forced a good save from Krul after Santon had squandered possession and Jan Vertonghen also saw a header fall a fraction wide.
Newcastle had chances of their own, but Papiss Cisse could not put the best of them away. He was denied by a superb save from Hugo Lloris after he had met a knock-down from Mike Williamson. The Senegal international was also picked out by an excellent ball over the heads of the defence from winger Sammy Ameobi, but his lob fell wide as Lloris dashed out to meet him.
If there was a criticism of Spurs it was they were a little too eager to score a second goal, often leaving themselves short on numbers at the back, but they were a joy to watch going forward.
It did not bode well for the home side and Tottenham got the second goal they needed swiftly enough.
A lovely flick from Paulinho created a shooting chance for Adebayor. Again Krul got a hand to his low shot, but as with the first goal, he palmed the ball perfectly for the Brazilian to smash past him.
Spurs took their foot off the gas and Lloris made two good saves to keep out headers from Mathieu Debuchy and Cisse, but they were still able to score again when Krul failed to divert another shot away from danger, this time from Andros Townsend, and Adebayor swept in the rebound.
Tottenham's fourth was a pearl, Nacer Chadli given time and space to smash a long range effort into the top corner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)