An Ayoze Perez brace ensured Newcastle United sealed promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
The win means fellow promotion chasers Huddersfield, Sheffield Wednesday and Reading can no longer catch United, who climb to 88 points, just four behind leaders Brighton with two games to play.
Perez got the Magpies off to the perfect start before they were pegged back courtesy of former Hartlepool United frontman Jordan Hugill six minutes later.
Christian Atsu restored their advantage before second half strikes from Matt Ritchie and Perez again sealed the win and promotion.
Rafa Benitez sprung a surprise pre-game by recalling Rob Elliot to the starting line-up at the expense of this campaign's No 1 Karl Darlow.
Elliot, starting his first United match since March last year, was not the only change, with Ciaran Clark coming back after more than a month out with a knee problem.
Elsewhere Aleksandar Mitrovic started up top, supported by Perez, as they did so successfully against Leeds United last time out at St James's Park.
It was Serbia international Mitrovic who saw a goal-bound effort deflected wide and from the resulting corner partner-in-crime Perez tapped home at the back post.
But that joy was to only last six minutes as the Lilywhites were back on terms in the 13th minute as poor defending by Clark allowed Preston to break and Hugill to net from close range.
And from then on in it was the visitors who were on top, zipping it around in the middle, leaving United to chase shadows.
But as the half wore on United began to assert themselves once again - and right on the stroke of the break they edged back in front when a smart break from Isaac Hayden found Mitrovic who unselfishly picked out Atsu in space, who had the simplest of finishes.
Into the second-half and United made their dominance pay when Perez's bicycle kick was saved and Hayden's follow up denied on the line by Paul Gallagher. The Preston captain was given his marching orders for the offence and Ritchie made no mistake from the spot.
And it really was party time at SJP when Perez netted his second and United's fourth in the 67th minute to put the icing on the cake for Benitez and United.