Norwich playmaker Wes Hoolahan turned in a masterclass as Sunderland head coach Dick Advocaat witnessed another horror show.
The Republic of Ireland international was the architect of his side's first victory on Wearside since 1997.
The Black Cats are desperately short of the quality they need to avoid yet another relegation scrap.
It was Hoolahan's invention - he played key roles in the second and third goals - which repeatedly tore the home side apart and helped to pave the way for Norwich's first win of the season, despite substitute Duncan Watmore's late consolation strike.
Norwich exploited their hosts' frailty at the back, if initially with a touch of good fortune when keeper Costel Pantilimon could only push Robbie Brady's 26th-minute shot against the shins of Russell Martin and ultimately into the back of the net.
Steven Whittaker added to Advocaat's misery eight minutes before the break when he played a one-two with the excellent Hoolahan, and fired past the helpless Pantilimon.
A Sunderland fightback was short-lived when Nathan Redmond wrapped up the win with 33 minutes still to go, exchanging passes with Hoolahan, and slid a shot past the stranded Pantilimon.
Watmore gave an exciting late cameo, including an 88th-minute goal on his Premier League debut, to give the home fans something to cheer, but it was simply too little, too late.
Norwich boss Alex Neill said "the performance and the result today showed that we are more than capable of holding our own at this level".