Goal-shy Hull City found their shooting boots at the worst possible time to put City to the sword at the KC Stadium.
The promotion-chasing hosts had scored only three times in their last nine matches, but found the net twice in each half to run out comfortable victors on Humberside.
Curtis Davies and Robert Snodgrass were both on target in a first period in which Peter Odemwingie twice came close for City and Jonathan Kodjia had a goal ruled out for offside.
It would remain 2-0 until the final 20 minutes when goals from Mo Diame and Sone Aluko gave the scoreline a more one-sided look that did not necessarily reflect the balance of play.
Lee Johnson may have been tempted to keep things the same after his side put six past Bolton Wanderers last time out.
Instead two-goal substitute Kodjia was restored to the starting line-up at the expense of Aaron Wilbraham, who had to be content with a place on the bench at the home of the club where he won promotion to the Championship in 2004/05.
For City it was all about continuing where they left off a fortnight ago.
Odemwingie set the tone early when he chased down Lee Tomlin’s cross-field pass, turned inside and rifled a shot goalwards from a tight angle that was beaten out by Allan McGregor.
But Hull are targeting an immediate return to the Premier League for a reason and were soon on the front foot.
City would have to deal with a number of devilish corners from Snodgrass even before Davies’ 14th-minute opener, while Marlon Pack’s timing needed to be perfect as he slid in to dispossess Aluko with the striker bearing down on goal.
The Tigers’ good spell was rewarded when Snodgrass swung the ball in from the right and Davies got across his man to guide the ball inside the far post for a goal with a level of simplicity that would have frustrated Johnson.
But the response from his team was bright. Adam Matthews retrieved what looked like a lost cause down on the byeline, producing a brilliant first-time cross to the back post that just skipped up in front of Odemwingie to make a fairly straightforward chance far trickier, and as a result the Nigerian was unable to keep his shot down from eight yards.
Hull, meanwhile, wanted a two-goal cushion. Richard O’Donnell kept them at bay with a superb reaction save to deny Sam Clucas, whose flick-on soon after set up Diame who blazed over on the volley from 12 yards.
City had shown flashes as an attacking force – certainly enough to suggest they were capable of breaching the Championship’s meanest defence – and thought they had drawn level on the half-hour.
Tomlin’s shot from 20 yards was not one of his best but a deflection made it awkward for McGregor who couldn’t hold it.
Kodjia was already on his bike anticipating a parried save, and was a clear winner in the race to the rebound as he beat McGregor with a simple close-range finish, only to be flagged offside in the process.
The Frenchman would have another chance to add to his 15 goals for the season at a crucial moment in the first half.
Running on to Joe Bryan’s pass, he took a great touch across the last defender but his poked shot as amber shirts retreated lacked the necessary power to beat McGregor, who saved with his foot.
In a cruel twist, the Tigers were clinical at the other end a matter of seconds later to leave City with a mountain to climb, as Aluko’s cross from the left was powered home by a Snodgrass header that left O’Donnell helpless.
The duel between Hull’s influential Scotsman and the City keeper would quickly resume when Snodgrass stepped inside and pulled the trigger with what looked a certain goal to put the hosts out of sight, only for O’Donnell’s trailing leg to keep the contest alive as he dived the other way.
The half-time interval prompted Alex Pearce to replace Nathan Baker at the heart of Johnson’s defence.
Pearce, on loan from Hull’s promotion rivals Derby County, took little time to make his mark with a crunching tackle on Aluko that left the striker needing treatment and the City man with his name in the book.
The faultless O’Donnell then had his heart in his mouth when Diame spotted a yawning gap between him and the goal, tempting the midfielder into an ambitious lob from just inside the City half that dipped at just the right time but dropped wide of the target.
The second period ultimately lacked the goalmouth action of the first, as Steve Bruce’s men did an impressive job of controlling the game before adding the gloss through Diame and Aluko.
The closest City came to halving the deficit to 2-1 saw Hull survive a game of pinball inside their own six-yard box when the ball just would not drop for a red shirt.
Having performed heroics in the first half, O’Donnell was beaten twice in ten minutes as City shipped four goals for the seventh time this season.
First Diame sidestepped Flint on the edge of the box and sent a low left-footed shot fizzing past O’Donnell’s left hand, before Aluko’s tame effort somehow escaped the keeper’s grasp in a moment he would rather forget.
A difficult day for City was summed up by the misfortune of substitute Luke Freeman, who sent a low shot against the inside of the post late on.