DJ Campbell returned to haunt Steve Bruce as Blackpool claimed a 2-0 win to become just the second team to win a Barclays Premier League game at the Stadium of Light in 2010.
Bruce had given Campbell his first chance in the Premier League during his time as Birmingham boss, but saw his former charge produce a 52nd-minute volley and a late second goal which handed the Seasiders their fifth league win on the road this season.
However, the Black Cats had only themselves to blame as they squandered a series of chances in front of a bumper holiday crowd of 42,892 on the way to a fifth defeat of the campaign and their first on home soil.
Only Manchester United had previously won a league game on Wearside this calendar year, and although the visitors had keeper Richard Kingson and the crossbar to thank for their clean sheet, they scrapped their way to the whistle to claim all three points.
Blackpool arrived on Wearside having not kicked a ball in anger since December 11 and with the home fans wondering whether that would have left them rusty or rested.
Sunderland were significantly strengthened in the wake of a 2-0 Boxing Day defeat at Manchester United which was far more comprehensive than the scoreline suggested.
Skipper Lee Cattermole and in-form striker Danny Welbeck returned from suspension and ineligibility respectively, while there was also a start for David Meyler following his latest return from injury.
Bruce had hoped the changes would give his team fresh legs and fresh impetus, and while the trio certainly did that, the Black Cats simply could not make the pressure tell.
They dominated the early stages of the game as the Seasiders came to terms with their belated return to action and created at least six good opportunities during the opening 45 minutes.
However, #23million strike-force Darren Bent and Asamoah Gyan, as well as Welbeck, who had gone into the game with five goals in his last six appearances, had left their shooting boots at home.
Bent shot across the face of goal after 11 and 32 minutes and Gyan, who had earlier driven the ball into the side-netting from a tight angle, wastefully scuffed wide from Ahmed Elmohamady's injury-time cross with the goal at his mercy.
Indeed, only midfielder Jordan Henderson, whose inviting cross Welbeck had earlier failed to convert, troubled Kingson unduly when he forced him into an ungainly 40th-minute save after Bent had set him up to side-foot firmly towards goal.
Blackpool, without inspirational captain Charlie Adam through suspension, found themselves on the back foot for lengthy periods, but gradually worked their way into the game and had chances of their own.
The best of them fell to striker Campbell, and if he should have done better with the first of them, he was unfortunate not to convert the second.
Substitute Matt Phillips, on for the injured Elliot Grandin, left Welbeck and Phil Bardsley for dead down the left on the half-hour and crossed for Campbell, who made space for himself, but could not hit the target.
But he went much closer seven minutes before the break when he worked himself into a good position and fired a low 20-yard drive inches wide with keeper Craig Gordon scrambling anxiously across his line.
Sunderland resumed with a flurry as Gyan headed across the face of goal and Welbeck shot straight at Kingson.
However, it was Blackpool who took the lead with 52 minutes gone after the home side went to sleep at a corner.
Neil Eardley was given time and space to collect David Vaughan's short pass and clip in a left-foot cross which Ian Evatt flicked on for Campbell to volley home from close range.
Matt Phillips blasted a long-range effort just wide a minute later, sparking Sunderland back into life, although Gyan could not keep his 58th-minute shot down as he slid in to meet Henderson's driven cross at the near post.
Bruce replaced Meyler with Kieran Richardson seconds later, but Blackpool were growing in confidence as the game wore on and looked capable of adding to their tally.
Indeed, they might have done just that with 64 minutes gone when defender Craig Cathcart headed Ludovic Sylvestre's corner into the side-netting.
Sunderland mounted an onslaught as the clock ran down and Kingson had to pull off a series of saves, denying substitute Steed Malbranque 10 minutes from time and then getting Evatt out of jail after his slip allowed Bent in four minutes later.
Bent's afternoon was summed up when his 86th-minute free-kick came back off the bar, and Campbell completed a miserable afternoon for the home side when he added a second from the impressive Phillips' inch-perfect cross with just seconds to play.
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