THERE ARE collapses, and then there are Sunderland collapses.
Crash, bang, wallop, here we are again.
It was a textbook lesson in how to build up a set of supporters and then machine-gun that feel-good factor
After witnessing Sunderland fall flat on their backsides after the previous three derby triumphs, the 40-odd thousand who headed to the Stadium of Light did so with a sense of trepidation, particularly with ex-Newcastle boss Alan Pardew looking to settle a few scores.
But this? This was as bad as anything since... well, four weeks earlier against Aston Villa.
It was a textbook lesson in how to build up a set of supporters and then machine-gun that feel-good factor.
Yet again, the pack of cards collapsed as soon as the first goal went in and the flood-gates opened with no oil needed on the hinges. It was terrifying and once more left thousands leaving the Stadium of Light leaving well before the final whistle.
There was no sense of post-derby buoyancy. No, this was a true sense of the pathetically fragile confidence in the Sunderland camp.
Yes, on a one-off basis, they can do it, yet that was against an awful Newcastle side who are fortunate themselves to not be engulfed in the relegation dogfight.
It doesn’t matter if it’s Di Canio, Poyet or Advocaat at the helm, too often it’s the same pattern at this club.
As we all knew before Advocaat’s appointment, there are more far more deep-rooted problems at Sunderland than simply the man in the dug-out.
It wasn’t just that Sunderland were unrecognisable from the derby, they were unrecognisable from the first half after they had played their part in an ugly, scrappy opening 45 minutes were there was nothing between the two sides.
The game had 0-0 written all over it.
Palace were happy to sit deep and play on the break, while Sunderland were wary of throwing too many men forwards.
All Palace did differently in the second half was go more direct, yet such a basic ploy ripped Sunderland to shreds.
There was an element of luck with the first goal, in that the superb Yannick Bolasie’s cross took a wicked deflection and fell perfectly for Glenn Murray.
But the other three all fell into the same category - long ball forwards, no-one deals with it and Sunderland cannot cope with pure pace. For Bolasie, read the equally fleet-of-foot Gabby Agbonlahor last month.
John O’Shea, in particular, mimicked the wretched performance he produced against Villa, with the fourth goal summing up his second half display.
Clearly, despite the derby, confidence remains minimal in Sunderland’s ranks.
Seeing the potentially decisive goal difference tally take another hefty hit simply added to the sense of misery.
For all the talk that Palace was a more important game than Newcastle, Sunderland again indicated that they can’t raise themselves for the bread and butter encounters.
It was another fine mess.