Gus Poyet handed recalls to Connor Wickham, Jordi Gomez and Patrick van Aanholt for the trip to Manchester United, with Ricky Alvarez (injured), Danny Graham and Santiago Vergini the men to step down.
Youngster Duncan Watmore was brought in to give a pacey, direct option from the bench after an impressive showing against the Red Devils under-21s in midweek.
In terms of system, it appeared to be a return to Poyet's favoured 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 thingy. Stop us if we're getting too technical...
Sunderland( 4-3-3): Costel Pantilimon, Anthony Reveillere, Patrick van Aanholt, Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Lee Cattermole, Seb Larsson, Jordi Gomez, Adam Johnson, Connor Wickham, Jermain Defoe.
Subs: Vito Mannone, Liam Bridcutt, Steven Fletcher, Danny Graham, Sebatsien Coates, Santiago Vergini, Duncan Watmore
Man Utd: David De Gea, Antonio Valencia, Chris Smalling, Jonny Evans, Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind, Ander Herrera, Ashely Young, Angel Di Maria, Wayne Rooney, radamel Falcao
Subs: Anders Lindegaard, Paddy McNair, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, James Wilson