It was the ugliest of wins, but all the sweeter for it.
A moment of extraordinary release five minutes from time, James Vaughan stooping at the back post to head home an utterly pivotal goal.
The Black Cats had been building pressure all through the second half in the worst conditions possible, the wind icy, the sleet swirling, the rain driving.
They had finally ironed out their defensive flaws, the odd difficult moment but generally they were resilient and compact, Burton rarely troubling them.
At the other end, the pivotal moment just didn't quite arrive.
There was a dearth of quality from both sides on the ball, Sunderland's midfield labouring and their creative players out wide just not quite finding the crucial end product.
It made the roar that greeted the first goal all the more potent. A superb corner from Oviedo to the front post, where Lee Cattermole had made a fine run to meet the ball. His header to the back post was excellent, Vaughan turning in before surging to the vocal away support to celebrate.
From there on in they bounced to the tune of 'I'm Vaughany, Vaughany, Vaughany Vaughany.'
A superb moment for the summer signing who has struggled of late but made a real nuisance of himself in two substitute appearances for Chris Coleman.
The second came moments later, just reward for a superb cameo from Joel Asoro.
Chris Coleman put his faith in the youngster at a crunch moment in the game, the scores still level, and the Swede was fearless, harrying the defence off the ball and taking them on when he got it.
He skinned Tom Flanagan before firing across goal, where George Honeyman had the simplest of finishes.
Weeks and months, of frustration fell away as the support serenaded their team and their new manager.
It was an ugly win, with so much to be worked on and with so much quality surely still to come from this squad.
Finally, however, they dug in at the back, stayed in the game and pounced late on, offering much needed hope after a brutal start to the season.