A stirring second-half display saw Southampton record a first win in six games, but it was their impressive facilities that caught the eye of the Cardiff City manager, Dave Jones, who saw his side's faint play-off hopes effectively extinguished with defeat at St Mary's.
A modern stadium and training complex has not been enough to prevent Southampton from flirting with a second successive relegation, but as Jones enviously surveyed the infrastructure of a club transformed since his departure six years ago, he warned his club's owner, Sam Hammam, that such facilities are imperative if Cardiff are to remain competitive.
"We have had a fantastic season. We have worked our socks off for 40-odd games, and that is a terrific effort for a squad of our size. But I've been very frustrated in recent months," said Jones.
"We are trying to build the things they've got here at Saints - a stadium and a training ground which are just phenomenal," he added. "But I'm wasting my time and the club's time if these projects are not pushed forward. We haven't trained properly in three weeks. We train anywhere we can at the moment."
Whether or not it had anything to do with their superior ground, Southampton emerged after a stale first half and produced a performance befitting the magnificent surroundings. Cardiff just could not keep up.
Claus Lundekvam opened the scoring two minutes after the interval with a glancing header. Though Cardiff drew level through Cameron Jerome, Ricardo Fuller deservedly put the home side back in front on 70 minutes, firing low into the left-hand corner of Neil Alexander's goal.
Fuller added another five minutes later from a corner and Southampton held on despite Darren Purse's injury-time header.
"It was a massive win for us and pushes us closer to safety," said George Burley, the Southampton manager. On and off the pitch, it seems, Cardiff simply could not match them.
Goals: Lundekvam (47) 1-0; Jerome (54) 1-1; Fuller (70) 2-1; Fuller (75) 3-1; Purse (90) 3-2.
Southampton (4-4-2): Miller; Baird, Lundekvam, Kenton, Higginbotham; Madsen (Belmadi, 78), Wright, Chaplow, Brennan; Rasiak, Fuller (Jones 80). Substitutes not used: Smith (gk), Dyer, McGoldrick.
Cardiff City (4-4-2): Alexander; Purse, Loovens (Cox, h-t), Barker, Scimeca; Ardley, Koumas, Ledley, Cooper (Boland, 78); Jerome, Ndumbu-Nsungu (Ferretti 67). Substitutes not used: Whitley, Weston.
Referee: P Walton (Northamptonshire).
Booked: Southampton Baird; Cardiff Ndumbu-Nsungu.
Man of the match: Fuller.
Attendance: 22,388.Reuse content