Amid the vast amount of energy expended at Filbert Street yesterday, and the cacophony of abuse from disgruntled regulars, it was not so difficult to understand why both these First Division teams had slipped from the Endsleigh League pedestal over the past few months.
Sunderland's fall is not so much their own fault, for they have suffered a glut of postponements that have left them with games to make up. But Leicester's problems in attack are all too apparent.
Despite having most of a hard-fought game of one sending-off - that of Gareth Hall - and seven bookings, Martin O'Neill was still left still searching for his first win as manager after six games.
Apart from their record as past occupants of top spot, the teams had something else in common: both had lost to the respective Manchester clubs in midweek FA Cup replays. Judging by the eagerness with which Michael Gray took on Leicester's defence, the defeat by United seemed to have taken a lot less out of Sunderland than Leicester's rout at City.
The impression was not to last. With Garry Parker exerting an ever greater influence, Leicester's confidence grew and by half-time Steve Corica and Iwan Roberts should both have scored.
Sunderland's best chance arrived when Kevin Poole cleared weakly to Phil Gray, who promptly fed Craig Russell. The Leicester goalkeeper redeemed himself with a smart save and then saw Shay Given, making his debut on loan, do almost the same at the other end. A wayward throw went straight to Corica, who was thwarted by a magnificent tackle from Dariusz Kubicki.
Leicester came closest to ending the deadlock. From a move begun by Parker, Corica curled over a cross from which Roberts looped a header against the bar. All then that was left was for Hall, in his first full game for the club, to be sent off for the second of two bookable offences.