Similar to the two campaigns previous to this one, Sunderland’s start to the season was top heavy with draws.
Having finally got their first win of the season in October, the next match saw the club record defeat of 8-0 equalled at Southampton - three of the goals being own goals scored by Gus Poyet signings.
In truth, the early spell summarised the type of season that the club were going to endure - a lack of goals, too many draws and far too few victories. Simply put, the season was another disaster rolling into another.
In an attempt to try and salvage the season, Jermain Defoe was summoned from Canada to try and rescue our goal-shy team - though his influence would not properly be felt until the arrival of Sam Allardyce the following season.
By the time March came around, Sunderland were in a bad way. They had failed to win a match in previous six - which included an FA Cup defeat to Bradford - and the pressure was rising on Poyet whose relationship with the fans was strained in the weeks leading up to this match against Aston Villa.
On this day, Tim Sherwood’s Villa came to the Stadium of Light in what was a crucial match for both sides. Villa had just secured their first victory in their derby match against West Brom the previous week - giving them belief and momentum as they travelled north for this clash.
And it was this momentum that was shown in the first half where the away side obliterated a Sunderland team described as ‘hapless’ in the BBC match report.
Four goals in the first forty five minutes was an embarrassing display from the home side - who have only won two games at home and scored only twelve goals.
Gabriel Agbonlahor and Christian Benteke both scored twice in the first half to give Villa their first goals and win away from home since December. In what was becoming a theme of this season, it was the simplicity of how Villa scored the goals, with John O’Shea particularly culpable in his shambolic defending.
The danger signs were there from early doors. Villa wingers Leandro Bacuna and Charles N’Zogbia were causing major problems with their wing play threatening Sunderland almost every time they went forward.
Sunderland were feeble - creating almost no chances of note throughout the first half - and when the goals started pouring in at Costel Pantimilon’s goal, the Stadium of Light was becoming a toxic place to be.
Home fans started to leave after the third goal went in after 37 minutes. Furthermore, some supporters had to be restrained by security staff as they attempted to get near Poyet - who sat impassively in the dugout almost throughout - as Villa went 4-0 up before the break.
As you would’ve assumed, there was nothing positve to report from a Sunderland perspective bar the comical moment at the start of the second half as they kicked off with 10 men before midfielder Seb Larsson limped out of the dressing room to rejoin the action almost four minutes after the restart.
Poyet’s time was up - he looked like a man who knew it - and two days later the Uruguayan was put out of his misery.
“Sadly, we have not made the progress that any of us had hoped for this season,” said chairman Ellis Short.
“We find ourselves battling, once again, at the wrong end of the table. We have therefore made the difficult decision that a change is needed.”
Dick Advocaat arrived to steer the side to safety with a 1-0 win over Newcastle where a truly stunning strike by Jermain Defoe was the highlight of the rest of the season.