Manchester City 4 Birmingham City 1
If Steve Bruce was looking for any sympathy on Saturday evening, then he was in the wrong place.
The venue may have changed, but Manchester City's home ground has always been a graveyard for Birmingham City managers.
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Having made 63 visits to either Maine Road or Eastlands, Blues bosses have come away empty-handed on 43 occasions, but there cannot have been many more woeful capitulations than the one served up by the current wearers of the Birmingham City shirt.
Well, perhaps there was one. Trevor Francis bought his Championship side to Maine Road to face their fellow promotion-chasers in a League Cup-tie on October 10 2001.
After slumping to a 6-0 defeat, Francis only survived for one more game before being sacked to be replaced, after an impasse due to gardening leave, by Bruce.
No one is suggesting that the same fate is about to befall the current incumbent, but even Bruce admitted he cannot rely on the board's continued unequivocal backing if he witnesses too many more performances like this.
The home supporters gleefully taunted Bruce, a former Manchester United star who regularly rejoiced at their expense, as the boot was firmly on the other foot.
Birmingham's manager looked a forlorn figure on the touchline as he was forced to listen to ironic chants from home supporters intimating he would soon be seeking alternative employment.
As Christmas presents go, it was as ghastly as comedy ties and cartoon socks and about as edifying as a soggy Christmas pudding.
Bruce looked like a rabbit in the headlights in his post-match press conference as he struggled to come to terms with what he had witnessed.
The absence of Emile Heskey, who was in the Midlands due to the impending birth of his child, was a headache Bruce could have done without, but surely not even the presence of Birmingham's talisman would have changed the outcome of this game.
Birmingham kicked off with only two players (Walter Pandiani and Nicky Butt) in the starting XI who had scored Premiership goal this season.
With that statistic in mind and Bruce's new robust approach still fresh in supporters' memories after last week's grubby home win over Fulham, to concede a goal inside 42 seconds was irresponsible.
However, when Antoine Sibierski and Darius Vassell linked up inside 11 seconds to draw a save from Nico Vaesen, then it became apparent that Birmingham are not the team they once were.
The defensive rock of Matthew Upson and Kenny Cunningham now looks brittle and they weren't helped by the fact that Sibierski was handed the freedom of Manchester for every set-piece.
It looked as though Olivier Tebily had been laden with the task of marking Sibierski at dead-ball situations, but the fact that he was substituted after 23 minutes summed up his effectiveness.
Sibierski's header led to David Sommeil garnering his first goal of the campaign and after the Frenchman had hit a post and Vassell spurned an easy opportunity, the hosts exposed more weaknesses in Birmingham's team.
Joey Barton robbed Stephen Clemence on the edge of the hosts' area and passed to Trevor Sinclair, who ran fully 50 yards with all of Bruce's midfield trailing in his wake.
Bruce's post-mortem centred on the lamentable lack of basic running within his team and Sinclair's surging run was a microcosm of the problems.
He slipped the ball to Vas-sell and after being felled by Vaesen, Barton stepped up to make it 2-0 from the penalty spot inside 14 minutes.
Tebily, to put it mildly, looked uncomfortable at full-back and the centre-halves were troubled by the aerial threat of Sibierski and the pace of Vassell.
Young full-back Marcos Painter found Sinclair a tough proposition, but at least he stuck to his task manfully and he was let down by some of his peers.
The midfield was over-run and, until Jiri Jarosik's late goal, didn't create a chance worthy of the name. In contrast, Manchester City's four were ubiquitous and supplied a constant stream of telling passes.
David Dunn's frustration at the lack of movement around him manifested itself in over-elaboration while Pandiani is looking anything but a £3 million player at present.
He appears to have the weight of the world on his shoulders while Mikael Fors-sell was largely anonymous during his hour on the pitch and desperately needs to rekindle the spark of two seasons previously.
Sibierski and Bradley Wright-Phillips added two more goals to the tally, as the hosts cut Birmingham open at will until Jarosik scored a late consolation.
There was still time for Vaesen to be dismissed for handling the ball centimetres outside the area and, to give some idea of just how bad this performance was, even Damien Johnson looked dispirited for the first time this season.
However, while the players must shoulder a portion of the blame, two of the goals came from set-pieces and Sibierski was clearly the biggest threat and should have been marked by Upson.
There will be a lot of soul-searching undertaken by everyone at St Andrew's after this defeat and while tomorrow's Carling Cup-tie with Manchester United doesn't sound like the ideal antidote, it could be just what the doctor ordered.
It means they only have 48 hours to stew on this abject performance and have absolutely nothing to lose as expectation levels will be at an all-time low.
If there is a positive response, then there is still a glimmer of hope that Birmingham  who have won two of their last four Premier-ship fixtures  can avoid the drop. However, any repetition of their woeful performance and it promises to be a joyless Christmas and New Year for Birmingham. ..SUPL: