Middlesbrough finally hit form to hand boss Gordon Strachan a timely boost as the Teessiders outplayed 10-man Scunthorpe on the way to a 3-0 win.
At the end of a week in which Strachan openly acknowledged the size of the task facing him at the Riverside after a slump into the bottom half of the Championship table, Boro finally kick-started their season as they registered only their second win in nine attempts under the Scotsman.
Adam Johnson's early penalty - after Cliff Byrne had been sent off - set the hosts on their way to some much-needed Christmas cheer before Rhys Williams doubled the advantage just before the break.
Jeremie Aliadiere added the third less than a minute after the interval as Boro opened up.
Strachan had vowed to stand firm in the face of the pressure that accompanied the Teessiders' slide to 14th in the Championship table prior to the start of play.
Yet the Boro boo-boys got their wish for a shake-up in goal, as Danny Coyne came in to replace the much-maligned Brad Jones - with the Australian surprisingly not even making the bench.
There were three changes for Scunthorpe, with Joe Murphy back in goal after suspension while Martyn Woolford returned from a foot injury and Gary Hooper (ankle) was replaced by Michael O'Connor.
But, within nine minutes, the Iron were a goal down and a man light.
Isaiah Osbourne had already come within a few inches of handing the hosts the perfect start when he picked the ball up 20 yards out and fired a shot against a post.
And, six minutes later, Boro were ahead when Aliadiere - playing for the first time since the victory over Derby in October, Gareth Southgate's last game in charge - burst into the box and was bundled over by Byrne.
The defender was shown a straight red card for his troubles by referee Neil Swarbrick and, just as he did in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, Johnson scored from the spot.
Aliadiere proved a constant menace to the Scunthorpe defence and almost added a second himself 10 minutes later with a snap-shot that drifted wide.
The visitors' response came from O'Connor but his 25-yarder was off target.
Then, after Johnson had lifted a shot against the crossbar, it was 2-0 a minute before half-time as Williams fired across the goalkeeper from just inside the box.
Iron boss Nigel Adkins made a double substitution at the break as Andrew Wright and Jonathan Forte replaced O'Connor and Paul Hayes.
But, within a minute of the restart, any wise half-time words Adkins had delivered were rendered null and void as Aliadiere gained deserved reward for his industrious return when he drilled a shot into the bottom corner.
His job done, the Frenchman soon made way for Marcus Bent before Grant McCann went close with a rare Scunthorpe effort on the hour.
In the final minute, Boro's day was soured somewhat when Leroy Lita was shown a straight red card for foul and abusive language, but it mattered little in the grand scheme of things.
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