It came as no surprise that Dylan McGeouch played a key part in the winning goal.
He had been a massive presence in the second half.
Both managers had noted that Sunderland had resisted the urge to go long in the second half, sticking to their gameplan and playing.
McGeouch, at the heart of midfield, embodied that.
His pass out wide found Luke O'Nien, who drove to the byline and crossed for George Honeyman.
It was the move Sunderland had been looking for all game and it underlined the resurgence of McGeouch in the last week.
After a long spell on the sidelines, he has delivered two excellent displays and his celebrations at the final whistle reflected a player thrilled to have made a contribution.
Football can be funny," he said.
"A few weeks ago I was disappointed and then in the space of a week, I'm in the team and we're winning, you see the celebrations, to be part of that is great.
"It's an important part of the season, we're going to need everyone and I'm just happy to be involved.
"It's been tough, the team has been doing well so I've not been playing.
"I've kept myself right and to be fair, the manager has praised me for that behind closed doors. I told him a month or two ago, that I was ready when the chance came. It's tough but I believed in the squad.
"I've played a good chunk of the season really and am probably hitting that pre-season form again," he added.
"In football, you don't go through full seasons on the top of your game. You have wee spells, I had a few injuries here and there and the team has been doing well. So I've just bided my time, I thought we did well on Wednesday.
"It's all about the squad, it's 23 players and everyone has played their part. The boys playing before I got back in were excellent. If we achieve what we want to achieve this season we'll do it collectively."
McGeouch had thrived in a freer role at Accrington and before the trip to Rochdale Jack Ross had challenged him to replicate that energy and drive.
The 26-year-old is just happy to be back involved but has enjoyed his spell in the 4-4-2 shape.
"I'll play anywhere," he said.
"I think the way we are playing just now suits us, we're hard to beat, play good football.
"We stuck by that in the second half even when we could have got a bit anxious and just lumped it forward to the front two. We still played our football, got our foot on and it created opportunities.
"We got there in the end.
"It's good for us just now, I'm just happy to have my chance and hopefully I can keep going."
McGeouch, of course, is far from the only player to come back in and make an impression.
Charlie Wyke marked his own return to form with a goal at Spotland and the likes of Jack Baldwin and Bryan Oviedo, who have also had time out of late, played a key part.
For McGeouch, that is a reflection of the environment Ross has built at the Academy of Light.
"It tells you a lot about what we have as a squad," McGeouch said.
"It's easy to kind of down tools and be unhappy that you're not playing.
"Obviously everyone is disappointed not to be playing but when the team is playing well you just need to keep yourself right, keep yourself training right.
"I told the manager I'd take my chance when I got it and hopefully I'm doing that just now.
"Charlie as well, he's finding his feet, his goal today was massive for us," he added.
"Even in the week, I thought he was excellent and you can see the fans singing him name in both games.
"It's great for our confidence."
Honeyman's goal put Sunderland in an excellent position as they chase second spot.
Their response from suffering heartbreak at Wembley has been emphatic.
"The peak of football, almost, last week at Wembley, 80-odd thousand fans, and then into extra time and you're disappointed to lose on penalties," McGeouch said.
"So everyone is looking to see how you get on during the week, it was a tough place to go but I thought we were excellent.
"Then you come here and it's tough as well. First half I think we played well and we just needed to stick by it, we dug in and got the result.
"We came in and heard that other teams have dropped points as well, it's a good day for us and long may it continue.
"Every game you win 2-1 you take, but to do it [like that], to come back, to show your character," he added.
"The celebrations, last minute goals, that's what it is all about. Teams that go and win Championships and promotions, you need to have that and you need to do it.
"We need to keep plugging away, we can't get carried away. Every game is a cup final and every game is the biggest one."