If Manchester City could just sort out their away form, the Premier League might have a team capable of pulling away from the pack. They have now scored 26 times in six games on their own ground. Add another 11 from three cup ties and it can start to feel like a trick of the mind that Manuel Pellegrini's team have already lost four games on the road. Brilliant yet bewildering, it surely cannot be long before they correct the disparity.
They began in a hurry, scoring in their first attack, and by the time they were done it was almost a surprise they had not equalled, or improved, their club record for the second time in three weeks. After the fifth goal, 10 minutes into the second half, it had looked a safe bet they would go even further than the recent 7-0 mauling of Norwich, when previously the last time they had won by that margin in the top flight was against Burnley in December 1968.
Generously, they settled for only one more, in stoppage time, when the substitute James Milner launched a long ball forward, Jan Vertonghen feebly hung out his leg and suddenly Jesús Navas was running clear. It was the defending of an alehouse team and André Villas-Boas was not exaggerating when he said everyone involved should feel "ashamed" by the performance. The worst defeat of his career? "Extremely embarrassing," he said. "The worst defeat for everyone at Tottenham."
As harrowing as it was, the ordeal should actually have been even worse. Sergio Agüero, acclaimed by Pellegrini afterwards as next in line only to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, would have finished with a hat-trick if he had not wasted the kind of chance he usually scores blindfolded. Fernandinho, unmarked six yards out, mis-kicked, Samir Nasri curled a shot against the crossbar and was stopped another time only by Sandro's wonderful saving tackle.
Spurs were abysmal, in every department, and they would be hiding from a bleak and inescapable truth if they were to cling to the fact that Manchester United have also been humbled on this ground this season.
The tone was set when Hugo Lloris, with his first touch of the game, kicked the ball straight to Agüero, saved the shot and then watched Navas turn in the rebound for the fifth quickest goal since the Premier League's formation. Not as fast as Ledley King's 9.9 seconds for Spurs against Bradford in 2000, but not too shabby at 13 and a half seconds. That was the point at which, according to Villas-Boas, "our head was gone".
Another poor kick from Lloris was also partly to blame for the second goal but, for the most part, the goalkeeper was badly let down by his colleagues. A team simply cannot defend this obligingly and expect to get away with it. Vertonghen's part in the final goal epitomised their disintegration. The manner in which Álvaro Negredo took the ball off Michael Dawson, on the edge of the penalty area, to rattle in the fifth was another case in point.
Once again, appreciative chants of "Beast" rang out around City's fortress. Negredo can also consider himself unfortunate that his shot, to make it 2-0, will be registered as an own goal for Sandro. Lloris had kept out Agüero's effort and Negredo's follow-up was on target before ricocheting off Younès Kaboul, then Sandro, in the six-yard area.
By that stage Sandro had already been seen vomiting on the pitch. "The intensity of the game," Villas-Boas explained. Yet Sandro was not the only player to be dizzied. Navas and Nasri were excellent in the wide positions but Vertonghen and Kyle Walker afforded them far too much space. Vertonghen also went awol when Navas crossed for Agüero to nip between Dawson and Kaboul and poke in the third goal five minutes before half-time. Walker was not much better and the game ended with the Spurs goal difference at minus three.
They have managed only nine goals in their 12 league games and Villas-Boas must really have gone off Jermain Defoe if he cannot get a look-in when the team are so sterile. Roberto Soldado has lost his early-season impetus whereas Emmanuel Adebayor, coming off the bench for his first action this season, is an act of desperation.
Agüero has scored one more league goals than the entire Spurs team and is increasingly making a case to be recognised as the best striker to wear City's colours. Negredo, as Pellegrini said, is "perfect for the Premier League" and it could easily be forgotten they were without Vincent Kompany and David Silva, not to mention Joe Hart, three of the mainstays from their title-winning season.
Costel Pantilimon, still keeping out Hart, had an early wobble but was largely untroubled and should not be downcast that Pellegrini said he will swap goalkeepers against Viktoria Plzen in the Champions League on Wednesday. With City already through to the knockout phase, it is a game for the second string. All the same, who would bet against another goal-fest?
Their outstanding moment? There were plenty of candidates but Agüero's second goal, to make it 4-0, showed City at their fluent, penetrative best. Yaya Touré played one-twos with Fernandinho and Negredo in the buildup, surging through the Spurs defence and expertly rolling the ball into Agüero's path. Thirty-seven goals in nine home games, City will be unstoppable if they can start showing this level of sophistication away from their own stadium.
Man of the match Sergio Agüero (Manchester City)