David Moyes' revival of West Ham rolled on courtesy of a 3-0 win at Stoke City, with Mark Hughes running out of time in his attempts to break the torpor at the bet365 Stadium.
Mark Noble scored a first-half penalty on his 300th Premier League appearance before Marko Arnautovic added a second late on, having played pantomime villain throughout against his former club.
To make matters worse for Stoke, Diafra Sakho also hit the target for West Ham - who are now out of the bottom three - with four minutes remaining, prompting further angry chants towards Hughes from an increasingly irate home support.
Kick-off in the Potteries was delayed by an hour due to a power cut, which served as foreshadowing for yet another low-wattage display from the Potters. Their best chances fell to Ryan Shawcross, who hit the post immediately before West Ham countered to win the penalty from which they opened the scoring.
The Stoke fans had spent much of the contest audibly questioning Arnautovic's £25million price-tag, and he could have scored on four occasions before ending the contest 15 minutes from time with a cool finish.
Stoke offered nothing by way of response, ending the match without a shot on target, and Sakho grabbed a third on the counter as the Hammers won on the road for the first time in 10 trips. Moyes is now unbeaten in three Premier League games for the first time since late in his Manchester United tenure.
Hughes was assured by Stoke owner Peter Coates that his future was not on the line in this match, but another lifeless display will do little to help the Welshman's job prospects, with the Potters falling to 17th, a point above the drop zone and below their opponents.
After the long delay to kick-off and a cagey start to proceedings, the game finally sparked into life in the 17th minute as Shawcross hit the post from Xherdan Shaqiri's corner.
Any hopes that it would send a surge through Stoke were quickly defused, however, as Manuel Lanzini buzzed into the area, where he was tripped by Erik Pieters' needless challenge.
Noble stepped up to mark his milestone appearance with a typical goal, sending Jack Butland the wrong way to put the Hammers ahead.
West Ham United (@WestHamUtd) December 16, 2017
The visiting captain was forced off with an injury after the half-hour mark, replaced by Declan Rice, but West Ham kept Stoke at arm's length and Arnautovic ought to have silenced the jeers rolling down from the stands on his return to the Potteries, but he was spurned one-on-one by Butland, who also kept out Lanzini's fizzing long-range effort.
Arnautovic blazed over after tricking his way through just before the break and the Austrian saw an angled header skim the crossbar five minutes into the second half.
West Ham goalkeeper Adrian remained untested until the 55th minute, when Shaqiri was given room to fire, but his deflected shot looped harmlessly and kindly for the off-balance Spaniard.
The visitors were time-wasting before the clock had ticked onto the hour and Hughes tried to inject fresh impetus by introducing Saido Berahino and Charlie Adam, whose fine delivery led to Shawcross heading over inside the six-yard box.
Still, West Ham created the better openings and Arnautovic went close for a fourth time, checking inside substitute Josh Tymon and slamming against the bar left-footed.
'What a waste of money' was the chant of choice from Stoke's fans but Arnautovic finally had the last laugh when he played a smart one-two with Lanzini, while drifting in from the right, and clipped a low finish beyond Butland.
Sakho was then allowed to roam into the box and find the net, ramping up more and more pressure on Hughes, who looks to be clinging onto his job.
Key Opta Facts:
- Stoke have lost five of their last six matches in the Premier League, winning the other.
- Manuel Lanzini provided two assists and won the penalty in this match – it’s only the second time that Lanzini has assisted two goals in a single PL game (also vs Middlesbrough in January 2017).
- Marko Arnautovic is the third player to score against Stoke in the Premier League having previously played for them in the competition (also Wilfried Bony and Seyi Olofinjana).
- Stoke have kept just one clean sheet in their last 16 Premier League games.