Sunderland’s first half frailties saw them suffer a Capital One Cup spanking at the hands of Premier League leaders Manchester City.
The Black Cats, who have now shipped 17 goals before the interval in their eight games this season, were blown away during the opening 45 minutes at the Stadium of Light after City feasted on the defensive vulnerability of the hosts.
Despite a positive start from Sunderland, Sergio Aguero opened the scoring from the penalty spot after a wild challenge from Patrick van Aanholt.
Sunderland thought they had equalised only to see Fabio Borini’s goal harshly ruled out for a foul, while Ola Toivonen saw a header tipped over the bar.
But then City scored three goals in a devastating 11-minute spell through Kevin De Bruyne, a Vito Mannone own goal and Raheem Sterling.
City coasted through the second half with the game-dead, but Sunderland grabbed a late consolation when Toivonen headed home his first goal in red and white.
DeAndre Yedlin made his Sunderland debut as one of five changes to the starting XI, with John O’Shea, Jack Rodwell, Adam Johnson and Vito Mannone - making his maiden appearance of the season - also included.
With Jermain Defoe dropped to the bench, Fabio Borini led the line with Johnson and Jeremain Lens either side of him.
Sunderland started really brightly with some crisp, confident passing, yet they were given a couple of quick-fire warnings in the seventh minute.
First, Aguero diverted Jesus Navas’ pull-back wide of the near post, and then the Argentine striker dragged a shot across a goal after an awful pass out of defence from Sebastian Coates.
But Sunderland didn’t heed those danger signs and went behind moments later after referee Roger East had little choice over awarding a penalty following a wild challenge from Patrick van Aanholt on Navas as he burst into the area.
Aguero was ice-cool and sent Mannone the wrong way from the spot.
Sunderland thought they had equalised in the 16th minute when Borini collected Yann M’Vila’s ball over the top, before calmly tucking it beyond Wily Caballero.
However, East had already penalised Borini very harshly for a foul on Nicolas Otamendi, when it appeared the City centre-half simply lost his footing.
City then needed a stunning save from Caballero to remain level in the 25th minute after Yedlin produced a superb run down the right before delivering a perfect cross for Ola Toivonen, whose header was tipped over the top.
But from the resulting corner, City broke with devastating pace - De Bruyne playing a one-two with Raheem Sterling, before beating Vito Mannone too easily at the near post.
Mannone was culpable again for City’s third in the 33rd minute when he needlessly parried away Bacary Sagna’s low cross after the right-back was given far too much room to cross.
The ball went straight into the path of Sterling, whose shot hit the post, before richocheting back off Mannone and into the empty net.
Three minutes later, it was four when De Bruyne threaded the ball through to Sterling down the inside left-hand channel and after being played onside by van Aanholt, the ex-Liverpool man placed the ball into the far corner.
Somehow, Aguero failed to make it five before half-time when he collected Sterling’s ball over the top, rounded Mannone, but then inexplicably checked his shot which allowed Coates and Yedlin to scramble it away off the line.
Mannone then produced a smart save on the follow-up to tip De Bruyne’s shot behind.
Lee Cattermole replaced Rodwell at the interval, with Sunderland adopting a more defensive-minded 4-1-4-1 system.
City were happy to coast after the break, but Sunderland almost pulled one back in the 72nd minute when Yedlin surged forwards and freed Borini to the right of goal.
However, it was a tight angle for Borini and he saw his shot blocked by Caballero.
Sunderland did grab a consolation with seven minutes to go, when Yedlin delivered another excellent cross from the right and Toivonen headed past Caballero at the near post.
Sunderland: Mannone, Yedlin, Coates, O’Shea, van Aanholt, M’Vila, Rodwell (Cattermole 46), Toivonen, Johnson, Lens, Borini. Subs not used: Pantilimon, Brown, Larsson, Gomez, Defoe, Fletcher. Booked: Rodwell (15), Coates (45)
Manchester City: Caballero, Sagna, Otamendi, Demichelis, Kolarov, Fernando, Toure (Evans 88), Navas (Roberts 55), De Bruyne, Sterling, Aguero (M Garcis 73). Subs not used: Wright, Maffeo, Fernandinho, Barker. Booked: Demichelis (57)