Manchester City maintained their grip on second place by comfortably brushing aside Newcastle United 4-0 at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
First-half goals from Carlos Tevez and David Silva were supplemented by a delicious back-heeled flick from Vincent Kompany on his long-awaited return to the team early in the second half.
With Roberto Mancini's team playing for the last hour with the kind of flourish that has mostly evaded them during their title defence, they scored a fourth when James Perch deflected a Yaya Toure shot into his own goal.
The victory moved Mancini's side to 62 points and five clear of third-placed Tottenham.
Newcastle did their best to stifle City early on with their usual physicality.
The champions nearly became the latest victims of a volleyed special from Papiss Cisse midway through the opening period.
A floated Vurnon Anita cross was met with a stinging shot from a seemingly unthreatening angle but Joe Hart's left leg prevented the Senegalese striker putting his team ahead.
Moments later, Gareth Barry was unable to match Cisse’s composure in front of goal.
The midfielder had the net at his mercy after a rebound fell neatly into his path but, much to the joy of the Newcastle fans behind Rob Elliot's goal, Barry blazed his finish wildly over the bar.
While the Englishman looked for a giant hole to swallow him up, City finally threw off the shackles.
Gael Clichy had a shot saved well by Elliot, Edin Dzeko headed just wide from a corner and Silva had a goal correctly ruled out for off-side.
Four minutes before the break, Newcastle's resistance was over.
Clichy's teasing cross on the run presented Tevez with a golden opportunity to extend his scoring run and the Argentine duly bundled in his seventh goal in six matches.
On the cusp of half-time, a now rampant home side doubled their advantage.
Silva was surrounded by a posse of black-and-white shirts as he collected Samir Nasri's pass in the box, but the Spaniard smartly shifted the ball to his left and arrowed his shot across the goal and beyond Elliot's left hand.
The visitors demonstrated greater purpose after the break, with Yohan Cabaye coming close to giving the travelling Newcastle support something to really sing about.
However, the game was effectively made safe for City after 56 minutes when the visitors failed to clear a corner.
Barry's fizzed shot from the edge of the box was met with the most delicate of flicks from Kompany, who back-heeled it into the net on the volley.
Toure steamrolled past a retreating Newcastle defence to smash in the fourth from a tight angle, although the Ivorian benefitted from a deflection from sub James Perch.
Immediately afterwards, Kompany left the pitch to be replaced by Javi Garcia, with the Etihad Stadium faithful giving the Belgian a standing ovation knowing the three points were comfortably in their keeping.