Neil Warnock reckons Cardiff City have got their promotion bandwagon back on track after the 4-0 rout of Sunderland.
The Bluebirds made former Wales boss Chris Coleman’s comeback to the capital a nightmare with his heaviest defeat as Black Cats boss.
Callum Paterson struck twice with Joe Ralls and Anthony Pilkington also on the scoresheet after a goalless opening 45 minutes.
The win ended a run of four straight Championships defeat for City who now have Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at Mansfield to focus on.
Warnock admitted: “We’re bound to be a bit low on confidence. You could see we were apprehensive in front of goal.
“We just had to work hard to get that goal and fortunately we got that early in the second half.
“You could see that relief. Then we were free to play. We stepped up a gear then, it was great. They looked sharp again.
“It’s been like that all week. They’ve looked sharp… It was good. We played some good stuff, some good goals. The energy was back.
“We looked lethargic over Christmas and it’s nice to get back to winning ways.
“We were the worst team in the league in our last four games so you’re just worried about your own problems.
“When you’re having a run like we did, you can’t see your next goal, you can’t see your next point.”
Ralls had come closest in a frustrating first-half with a 20-yard half-volley that was tipped around the post by Sunderland keeper Robbin Ruiter.
But City got the goal they needed just 45 seconds in the second-half as Paterson outjumped the visitors defence to head home Ralls’ corner.
Coleman’s side were reduced to 10-men a few minutes later when midfielder Didier Ndong was given a straight red for a reckless challenge on Junior Hoilett.
Ralls smashed home the second on 55 minutes following a counter-attack led by Hoilett who found Kenneth Zohore to set-up the midfielder.
Paterson bagged his second on 80 minutes after Zohore’s free-kick deflected into his path.
Warnock was able to give a home debut to loan signing Yanic Wildschut.
And the Dutch flier made an impact as he set-up fellow sub Anthony Pilkington in injury-time.
Warnock hailed Wildschut’s desire to make his debut after a difficult few days which included a delayed landing at Cardiff Airport due to fog.
The Bluebirds manager added: “It sounds silly because he was on the bench but I think Yanic coming in lifted everybody.
“You can see why I wanted to bring him in, even in a short space of time. He’s my kind of player. He’s direct and loves attacking people and I think he’ll be a good asset for us.
“He’s had a hell of a week. He had a baby, went home, stayed with his wife. He’s had a lot to deal with and I did give him the option of not coming because your family’s more important.
“But she is a lot better and she insisted he played and it was just nice to have him around.
“If we can bring another couple in over the next couple of weeks it will give everybody a lift because we have been decimated with injury.”