The former Black Cats’ boss was sacked here three years ago this month for a run of poor form nowhere near as bad as the one Hull have recently been on.
But last season he gained revenge by steering Hull to three wins over his former club — two immediately after Sunderland victories in the Tyne-Wear derby — and yesterday he did it again.
This was more impressive than any of those triumphs — yesterday his patched-up side had to come back from the hammer blow of conceding a goal inside 30 seconds.
A dreadful Curtis Davies’ backpass was way too short and keeper Allan McGregor back-tracked when he should have advanced. Adam Johnson, fresh from his derby heroics at St James’s Park, simply bustled past Davies, rounded McGregor and tapped home.
But to Hull’s credit they did not buckle and when the tempo dropped they snatched a goal back — Gaston Ramirez shooting from distance in the 33rd minute and the ball bouncing off a divot to deceive Pantilimon.
Sunderland however finished the half well on top and the visitors had to be grateful for the officials failing to spot two blatant handballs in the Hull area, while Alex Bruce hacked a Seb Larsson header off the goal-line and McGregor saved well from Santiago Vergini.
However there was nothing fortuitous about them taking the lead five minutes after the resumption.
Pantilimon had already tipped a dangerous Robbie Brady free-kick over the bar when he was left in no-man’s land as James Chester got goal-side of Vergini and nodded a right-wing corner home from six yards at the near post.
And in the last of six minutes time added on, substitute Nikica Jelavic stroked a breakaway goal confidently home to utterly dispel any lingering post-derby euphoria on Wearside.
Poyet acknowledged his side’s disappointing second-half but was convinced referee Marriner’s myopic display had unnerved his players.”The game changed completely when we did not get the decisions from the two penalty incidents,” he said.
“The energy drained away from my players and they lost their focus.
“In the second-half, yes, we were disappointing but it was one of the worst ever afternoons at the Stadium of Light in terms of official’s decisions.”
Bruce, predictably, saw it slightly differently.
“There were a couple of penalty calls but I thought the referee showed common sense because neither was blatant,” he observed.
“We’ve had a lot of decisions not go our way in recent weeks so it’s nice to get a couple back in our favour.
“We deserve credit though.
“We made a horrible start to the match — a horrible mistake and it would have been easy to capitulate.
“It took us 15-20 minutes to get it out of our system but after that I thought the best team won at a canter.
SUNDERLAND: 4-1-4-1: Pantilimon 5; Vergini 5 (Buckley 83, 4), Coates 5, O’Shea 6, Jones 5; Cattermole 6; Alvarez 5 (Giaccherini 62, 5), Larsson 7, Gomez 5 (Altidore 62, 5), Johnson 7; Fletcher 6.
HULL CITY: 3-5-1-1: McGregor 6; Chester 6, Bruce 6, Davies 5; Elmohamady 6, Meyler 8, Quinn 6, Brady 6 (Ince 87, 5), Rosenior 6; Ramirez 6 (Sagbo 77, 5); Aluko 5 (Jelavic 87, 6).
Referee: Andre Marriner (4)