Six things we learned: Simon Grayson gamble backfires and Darron Gibson's not the answer
Ten games into the season, Sunderland are third bottom and two points adrift of safety in the Championship - with a second successive relegation a very real possibility.
Sunderland were thumped 5-2 by Ipswich Town at Portman Road on Tuesday night, here's what we learned from the crushing defeat.
SIMON GRAYSON'S SELECTION GAMBLE BACKFIRED
In a bid to spark some life into this lifeless Sunderland side, Grayson made five changes including dropping Robbin Ruiter and Didier Ndong.
Grayson admitted Ruiter had done little wrong in his previous appearances but felt the need to make changes for change sake. It didn't work. And Ruiter will be left demoralised having been dropped for no good reason.
The defence and goalkeeper positions need to be settled to build confidence and partnerships but at the moment the scattergun approach to selection isn't helping.
BLACK CATS IN FREEFALL AND ANOTHER RELEGATION IS A POSSIBILITY
The dark cloud over Wearside shows no sign of lifting anytime soon. Sunderland are in freefall, unable to get a foothold in the Championship and showing no signs it will improve anytime soon.
They need a result at Preston North End on Saturday. With 10 games of the campaign already gone, the league table is beginning to take shape.
It could be another long winter ahead on Wearside.
SUNDERLAND CAN'T DEFEND
The lack of defensive nous on show against Mick McCarthy's Ipswich Town, a side that hadn't been in great form themselves before Sunderland rocked up, was embarrassing.
Martyn Waghorn - who else? - was allowed to glance home the opener while it was too easy for Jordan Spence to nod home their second. The less said about the other three goals the better.
Sunderland were all at sea. No organisation. No cohesion. Crucially, no communication. Rank bad defending cost them dear.
Double training sessions are clearly needed during the international break.
LAMINE KONE IS A SHADOW OF HIS FORMER SELF
And to think Everton were willing to pay Â£18million for the centre-back. Surely Kone is worth a quarter of that now.
He is a shadow of his former self. There were no bids this summer so he had no choice but to knuckle down and earn himself a January move. Yet, he has looked way off the pace.
He wasn't picking up his man, didn't seem sure where to position himself and there is zero communication between him and Marc Wilson - the ex-Bournemouth defender who has been equally poor since his deadline day arrival.
If the defending was bad, the so-called protection in front of them wasn't any better.
Didier Ndong was dropped. Lee Cattermole partnered with the returning Darron Gibson.
Gibson had a shocker, Cattermole didn't fare much better, though he did at least clear one off the line. Ipswich ran riot, it could and should have been more than 5-2.
Central midfield was a major issue for David Moyes last season, never having a settled partnership.
Up until last night, Cattermole and Ndong had played a lot of games together this season but both have underperformed. Gibson showed he isn't the answer either.
SUNDERLAND HAUNTED BY FORMER PLAYERS. AGAIN
In previous games it has been Daryl Murphy for Nottingham Forest and David Meyler for Hull City, the curse of the former player hit Sunderland again Tuesday.
This time it was the turn of Waghorn, the former Rangers striker producing a man of the match performance; scoring one and setting up three more.
There was a standing ovation for Waghorn when he was subbed. The South Shields-born frontman came through the Academy ranks at Sunderland.
Linked with a return this summer, Waghorn signed for Ipswich and has hit the ground running for Mick McCarthy's side with Sunderland on the receiving end.