NEWCASTLE United director of football Joe Kinnear sat in the Liberty Stadium main stand, furiously scribbling notes.
His scouting report for next weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby will have Alan Pardew salivating.
For 45 minutes, Sunderland played with a solid team shape that frustrated Swansea and provided evidence of Gus Poyet’s “back to basics” blueprint on the training ground.
But when Swansea upped the tempo, the collapse was as spectacular as anything the Black Cats have produced during this most shambolic of starts to the season.
In a mere seven-minute spell, Sunderland surrendered with those familiar defensive clangers which have cost them repeatedly.
The inability to defend set pieces is laughable – the tally conceded from deadball situations in the Premier League now standing at six after another pair.
They’re almost averaging one a game.
If it hadn’t been for a handful of stunning saves from Keiren Westwood, the margin of defeat could have been more humiliating.
Sunderland desperately needed to win one of Poyet’s first three games in charge against Swansea, Newcastle and Hull – all were realistically winnable.
But what price now?
Sunderland’s players looked utterly bereft of confidence or fight when Chico Flores bundled home Swansea’s fourth.
Even at this tender stage of the campaign, they look like a relegated side.
What will have particularly frustrated Poyet was that the opening half was job done from an away perspective, even if provided little mileage for DVD sales.
Sunderland put men behind the ball, with players in their natural positions and frustrated Swansea – as Poyet had vowed to do in his pre-match press conference.
They nicked possession away from the Swans, showed Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer infield and restricted the hosts to a Jonathan de Guzman free-kick as their only effort of note.
Swansea looked as poor as they have since earning promotion to the Premier League and were unable to produce that slick ball retention in the final third which has become their calling card.
There was a general flatness around the Liberty Stadium too.
Their habitually noisy supporters were subdued and it translated onto the pitch, where Michael Laudrup’s side looked drained of confidence from a seven-month wait for a home Premier League win.
Poyet’s players re-emerged from the tunnel rightfully believing they could go on to win the game if they showed a splash more adventure.
But when Swansea upped the tempo at the start of the second half, Sunderland couldn’t handle it.
The ball suddenly became a hot potato for those in red and white and there was an inevitability that the opener would come.
Poyet won’t have expected the plummeting drop of heads after that though.
It was harrowing stuff.
After getting his wish for the job that so desperately wanted, Poyet has seen the full extent of the mountainous task in front of him.
This is by far the most serious threat to Sunderland’s Premier League status since the club returned to the top flight.
Only the confidence gleaned from the sweet taste of victory will give Sunderland a prayer.
But after six straight league defeats, it looks beyond them at the moment. They need to produce some reaction to get it in the derby.
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