There were times when David Meyler barely allowed himself to imagine playing professional football again, let alone appearing at Wembley. After enduring two career-saving knee reconstructions Meyler deserves a moment or two in the sun and no Sunderland supporter would begrudge their former midfielder an FA Cup winners' medal.
The Irishman, impressive throughout, scored the second goal – and, in homage to his brush with Alan Pardew last week, celebrated by "head-butting" the corner flag. It was an unseasonably balmy afternoon that left Steve Bruce looking forward to Hull's first semi-final appearance since 1930 as well as celebrating a revenge-spiced third victory of the season over former employers who sacked him two and a half years ago.
"I can't see many fans who were around for the last semi in 1930 making it to Wembley again," said Bruce, whose side have a winnable tie against another of his old teams, Sheffield United. "The FA Cup has, for me, lost a bit of its magic but, when you get to this stage, it becomes exciting."
Having seen Meyler come through two long-haul post-surgery rehabilitations Bruce could not disguise his delight for the player. "David had two horrible knee injuries at Sunderland," he said. "But his determination has made him a firm favourite here… and the way he conducted himself last week was exemplary."
Sunderland's manager, Gus Poyet, looked less happy but hardly heartbroken. Coming a week after their Capital One Cup final defeat by Manchester City and at a time when they remain in acute relegation peril this was the right time for a disappointing Sunderland to bow out of knockout football for a while.
With the visiting manager stating that Saturday's home Premier League game with Crystal Palace is "bigger" than last week's Wembley trip it was no surprise that Poyet rested several key players. "We were not good enough in everything today," he said. "But from now on collecting points is all that matters. Palace is the biggest game of the season."
Although an early Maynor Figueroa cross-shot rebounded off the bar, Hull initially struggled to make clearcut chances. If Bruce's cause was hardly helped by the booking for a high, studs- up tackle on Lee Cattermole that meant the influential Tom Huddlestone needed to watch his step, Sunderland failed, quite dismally, to convert possession into scoring opportunities.
After surviving an early fright when Matty Fryatt headed Ahmed Elmohamdy's cross wide, Poyet's team were weakened by Cattermole's booking, the midfield anchor seeing yellow after a clumsy challengeon a former team-mate.
Meyler may not have been bothered about Pardew's head-butt last week but he was rightly cross with Cattermole. So, too, were several Hull players, while Bruce berated the visiting bench.
It all served to place an electrical charge beneath Hull. Galvanised by righteous indignation they raised their game as Sunderland's creative block intensified.
Poyet's team conceded a penalty following Sebastian Larsson's trip on Sone Aluko but Aluko's ensuing low kick was so weak Oscar Ustari made a decent but reasonably comfortable save. Ustari then did well to repel Liam Rosenior's 30-yard shot as the tie drifted towards half-time.
With the impasse extending past the hour and an unwanted replay beckoning, Sunderland liberated Fabio Borini and Adam Johnson from the bench but, within a minute, Hull were ahead.
Huddlestone's beautifully weighted free-kick from beside the corner flag served as a reminder that this supreme technician should surely not be excluded from England's World Cup squad, before being met by the defensively outstanding Curtis Davies whose excellent header easily evaded Ustari's grasp.
Then came Meyler's moment. The substitute George Boyd initiated a swift counter-attack and Meyler gleefully dispossessed Cattermole before cutting in from the right and beating Ustari with a left-foot shot. Pardew may or may not have been amused by his celebratory encounter with the corner flag.
The early spring sunshine was starting to fade but sufficient time remained for Fryatt to intercept Cattermole's slapdash attempted back-pass before slipping the ball beyond the Argentinian keeper and ensuring the final whistle was greeted by a pitch invasion of the most joyous variety.
Man of the match David Meyler (Hull City)