The £100m (€138m) duo tore the Black Cats apart on a night when the Premier League leaders demonstrated a brutal efficiency in front of a largely horrified crowd of 21,644 at the Stadium of Light.
Sergio Aguero started the ball rolling from the penalty spot before De Bruyne, Vito Mannone’s own goal and Sterling made it 4-0 by the break to extend bottom-of-the-table Sunderland’s first-half goals conceded tally for the season to 17 in just eight games and make Ola Toivonen’s late header irrelevant.
Elsewhere, Rudy Gestede settled a scrappy Second City derby as Aston Villa edged past rivals Birmingham in the Capital One Cup.
The striker’s second-half header sealed a 1-0 win to lift some of the building pressure on boss Tim Sherwood.
Villa had lost their last two games, and their last two derbies, to West Brom and Leicester before being booed off at the break last night.
But the introduction of Jack Grealish at half-time helped turn the game in Villa’s favour following a pedestrian first half.
Everton survived a scare as they came from behind to beat Reading 2-1 at the Madejski Stadium.
Nick Blackman gave Reading the half-time advantage but Ross Barkley equalised just past the hour and the visitors won it 11 minutes later when Gerard Deulofeu crashed home a long-range free-kick.
Republic of Ireland international David Meyler poached the only goal of the game as Hull defeated Swansea in a Capital One Cup third-round tie that saw a return to action for Jake Livermore.
Livermore managed 69 minutes in his first appearance since May, when he was suspended following a positive cocaine test, and played his part as Steve Bruce’s side knocked over their Barclays Premier League opponents.
But it was his fellow midfielder Meyler who grabbed the winner, turning home from a matter of centimetres after Shaun Maloney’s header was palmed across goal just before the break.
Peter Crouch’s first goal of the season was enough to see Stoke into the fourth round of the Capital One Cup at the expense of Fulham.
The Potters made eight changes from their weekend draw with Leicester as Crouch started just his second game of the campaign, but they still had enough to see off a Fulham side who were consigned to the Championship following a defeat at the Britannia Stadium 16 months ago.
Middlesbrough cruised into the fourth round as they extended their winning run to five matches with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Wolves.
Albert Adomah scored twice with Diego Fabbrini also finding the target, as Aitor Karanka’s side carried over their impressive league form into the cup environment.
Andy King scored an extra-time winner as Leicester City beat West Ham 2-1.
Joe Dodoo opened the scoring for the Foxes before Mauro Zarate equalised to force extra time.
- Robert Lewandowski made Bundesliga history last night as he scored five goals in just 10 minutes to earn Bayern Munich a 5-1 win over Wolfsburg.