Paolo Di Canio launched his Tyne-Wear derby career in spectacular style as Sunderland blasted their way past Newcastle 3-0 to ease their relegation fears.
The Black Cats, who arrived on Tyneside without a win in nine Barclays Premier League games, were simply too good for their hosts, who were never able to muster the intensity they needed to deny their neighbours the points.
Stephane Sessegnon blasted the visitors into a first-half lead and stunning strikes by Adam Johnson and substitute David Vaughan after the break ensured there was no way back for Alan Pardew's men, who are now only two points better off than their derby rivals.
Di Canio dropped to his knees in celebration on the sidelines when Johnson's 74th-minute effort hit the back of the net, while Pardew had due cause to feel aggrieved after what would have been a 61st-minute Papiss Cisse equaliser was ruled out for offside.
The Magpies' defences were finally breached with 27 minutes gone. Jonas Gutierrez, who had been asked to play at left-back, found himself on the opposite side of the pitch and having given the ball away, failed to dispossess Sessegnon as he cut inside towards goal and unleashed a skidding shot which sped past goalkeeper Tim Krul and into the bottom corner.
Krul departed prematurely 57 minutes in after landing awkwardly after challenging for a high ball and was replaced by Rob Elliot.
Simon Mignolet was called upon to palm away Cisse's 60th-minute effort, and the Belgian and his team-mates enjoyed a let-off seconds later. Sylvain Marveaux's free-kick was turned back across goal and the Senegal international smashed it into the roof of the net, only to be denied by an offside flag.
Pardew swiftly replaced the weary Yohan Cabaye with compatriot Hatem Ben Arfa, and he might have dragged the home side back into it 19 minutes from time when Mathieu Debuchy returned Marveaux's cross back across goal, but he could not keep his header down.
Cisse fired another effort wide from Moussa Sissoko's cross two minutes later with Newcastle pressing, but Johnson dashed their hopes when he steered a superb left-foot shot past Elliot to make it 2-0.
There was worse to come for the home side with eight minutes remaining when Vaughan blasted a swerving left-foot drive high past Elliot and inside the far post to complete the Black Cats' dream afternoon.