So much for the theory that Sheffield United were tottering. With their eighth Championship away win of the season, they provided an overwhelming response to the cutting of their lead over third-placed Leeds United to eight points.
Spirited Hull City scored first in an exhilarating contest but Neil Warnock's side's resilience and promotion credentials were there for all to see.
There was little early on to suggest Sheffield were unduly unnerved by the advance of the chasing pack. Neil Shipperley might well have underlined their supremacy, only to blaze over the top from David Unsworth's corner; and the recalled Michael Tonge connected sweetly with a left-foot volley which was matched by Bo Myhill's outstanding save.
When Hull countered, they did so fiercely and were kept out only by a magnificent tip-over from Paddy Kenny when Nicky Barmby's wonderful skills opened a route to goal.
It was no more than brief respite for United though. Midway through the half, Billy Paynter laid off a short pass from which Jason Price marked his 50th start for Hull by curling a tremendous first-time left-foot shot just inside the far post.
Sheffield's good fortune in staying only one goal adrift was compounded by the lucky break that brought them level after 31 minutes.
Paul Ifill's left-foot shot from just outside the area appeared to be covered by Myhill until a looping deflection at close quarters off Andy Dawson.
Controversy then accompanied United's second goal right at the end of a vibrant half. Price appealed unsuccessfully for a foul by Unsworth and after the ball was swept upfield, Danny Webber cut inside to score with a powerful low drive from 15 yards.
Opportunities came just as thick and fast for the visitors after the interval. Breathing space was established in the 53rd minute with another splash of Premiership quality. A prolonged move ended with Webber rolling back a pass in the area for Armstrong to control and arrow in low and left-footed.
Phil Jagielka was at the heart of United's massive second-half superiority, although he marred his contribution by bulleting wide a header from Unsworth's corner.
Hull City (4-4-2): Myhill; France, Cort, Collins, Dawson; Price (Ellison, 71), Andrews (Woodhouse, 61), Delaney, Barmby; Paynter, Elliott (Green, 61). Substitutes not used: Duke (gk), Lynch.
Sheffield United (4-4-2): Kenny; Geary, Morgan, Bromby, Unsworth; Ifill (Gillespie, 75), Jagielka, Tonge (Montgomery, 80), Armstrong; Shipperley, Webber. Substitutes not used: Kabba, Quinn, Kozluk.
Referee: M Thorpe (Suffolk).Reuse content