Relegation fears heightened as Sunderland are humiliated by rivals Birmingham City
First half strikes from David Davis and Jermaine Boga were added to after the interval by Sam Gallagher as the visitors' defence crumbled.
Bryan Oviedo did manage a late consolation goal, but it was too little, too late as the Wearsiders fell to another disappointing defeat.
Chris Coleman was forced into two changes as Billy Jones and John O’Shea missed out through injury and illness respectively, with Adam Matthews and the returning Lamine Kone taking their places.
And the makeshift backline had to deal with some early pressure, as Boga and Gallagher both sent efforts narrowly wide.
Gallagher then turned provider with his cutback looking ready to be tapped home by Jacques Maghoma were it not for Oviedo’s timely intervention.
Youngster Josh Maja had Sunderland’s best opportunity of the first half but fired harmlessly wide from distance before the Black Cats eventually succumbed to the hosts’ pressure on 28 minutes.
Jake Clarke-Salter’s missed header allowed Maghoma to play in Davis who fired home from, an angle, although questions will be asked as to whether Robin Ruiter could have done more after getting a weak hand to it.
That goal buoyed the hosts who had a second just before the break as Boga was left free in the area and powered his header past Ruiter.
And Sunderland’s defensive frailties were even more evident after the break as they gifted the Blues a third – Boga seizing on Ruiter's poor handling and squaring to the unmarked Gallagher who tapped home.
Sunderland did manage to finish strongly, with Oviedo hitting the post with a flick from substitute Aiden McGeady's low cross.
The full-back then went one better and pulled a goal back for the Black Cats as he fired a fine volley past David Stockdale after being picked out at the far post.
But there was to be no fairytale comeback for Sunderland who drop further into relegation trouble.
Sunderland XI: Ruiter, Browning, Kone, Clarke-Salter (McGeady 65), Matthews, Cattermole (C), E Robson, Oviedo, Asoro (Gooch 84), Maja (LuaLua 59), Honeyman
Subs Not Used: Steele, Williams, Love, Galloway
Goals: Oviedo (83)
Yellow Cards: Clarke-Salter (47), Robson (58), Honeyman (78)
Red Cards: None
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 19,601 (1,033 away)