If the best things really do come to those who wait, Mick McCarthy can expect a double-figure margin when he finally wins a Premier League match at the Stadium of Light.
It is now 25 attempts and 25 failures for the Wolverhampton Wanderers manager, who turned Sunderland's stadium into a land of easy pickings during the latter stages of his four-year spell on the banks of the Wear.
Yesterday's reverse was his first there as the Wolves manager, and was arguably the most unpalatable of the lot as his side played well enough for large periods, only repeatedly to shoot themselves in the foot.
The concession of two penalties was only part of the story, as a grateful Sunderland scored five for the first time since they lifted the Championship title at Luton Town and moved to within six points of the top of the Premier League table.
"It was a harsh scoreline," McCarthy said. "But there were incidents that made that happen. The third goal was the killer. We had the game by the scruff of the neck, but our centre-backs didn't deal with things. We really played well, but the result tells all. We made too many mistakes."
Sunderland were equally uncertain in defence, but the quality of the hosts' attacking ultimately proved the difference between the two sides. Darren Bent scored one and Kenwyne Jones two, with the former maintaining the fine start that has now seen him score six goals in seven matches since his summer move from Tottenham and the latter justifying his recall ahead of Fraizer Campbell.
Bent's goal came from the penalty spot after Segundo Castillo was punished for a clumsy challenge despite appearing to take some of the ball as well as the Sunderland striker's leg. He almost had a second, a low strike that deflected off Michael Mancienne, and made the game safe in the 90th minute.
Jones' double also included a penalty, with the Trinidad & Tobago international profiting from Bent's soreness following a foul from Christophe Berra to convert from the spot three minutes after the break.
That made it 2-0 to the hosts, but Wolves turned the game on its head with two goals in the space of five minutes shortly after. John Mensah chested the ball into his own net after Craig Gordon had saved from Berra, before Kevin Doyle lashed home after Karl Henry's indirect free-kick from six yards had been blocked by the wall.
Jones' second, a precise 25-yard strike that arrowed into the corner, re-established Sunderland's lead, and Michael Turner scored his second goal since leaving Hull when he powered home a 73rd-minute header from Andy Reid's corner.
"We're going to have to defend better than we did," said the Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce. "We'll take it, but it was never 5-2, we all know that, so we have to improve. We've had a decent start, and 12 points on the board is terrific. But we're not going to get carried away because, at times, we made some alarming mistakes."
Sunderland (4-4-2): Gordon; Da Silva (Ferdinand, 75), Turner, Mensah, Richardson; Malbranque, Cana, Cattermole (Henderson, h-t), Reid; Bent (McCartney, 90), Jones. Substitutes not used: Fulop (gk), Nosworthy, Healy, Campbell.
Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-4-2): Hennessey; Halford, Berra, Mancienne, Elokobi; Edwards, Henry, Castillo (Kightly, h-t), Jarvis; Doyle (Ebanks-Blake, 77), Keogh (Maierhofer, 77). Substitutes not used: Hahnemann (gk), Foley, Craddock, Milijas.
Referee: L Mason (Lancashire).
Booked: Sunderland Turner; Wolverhampton Doyle, Henry, Halford.
Man of the match: Bent.