That run of results had heaped the pressure on manager Mark Hughes, and speculation was rife that the Welshman was on the brink of being replaced at the City of Manchester Stadium.
After a 3-0 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane three days earlier, it was imperative that Hughes and City bounced back immediately from that setback to overcome a mid-table Sunderland outfit, and the former Wales boss recalled Shaun Wright-Phillips in place of Robinho, while also handing a start to forward Roque Santa Cruz.
The Paraguayan provided an instant reminder as to why he had been thrown back into the starting lineup with an opening goal on five minutes, converting the ball into an empty net after good work from Craig Bellamy.
A disappointing start for the Black Cats worsened before the 10-minute mark when Nyron Nosworthy brought down Bellamy inside the penalty area, and Carlos Tevez made no mistake from the spot as City took control of the encounter.
© Getty Images
However, their superiority lasted just seven minutes as Sunderland reduced the deficit. Andy Reid's corner wasn't dealt with, and John Mensah was allowed to head the ball home under little pressure from the City defence.
City were struggling to retain their early momentum and after Micah Richards was forced to leave the action through injury, the visitors equalised through Jordan Henderson, who took advantage of a mistake from Kolo Toure to strike the ball into the roof of the net from close range.
The home supporters were getting increasingly agitated as their team found it difficult to put a period of play together, but they were back on their feet 10 minutes before the break when Wright-Phillips worked his way down the right before crossing for Bellamy to rifle home from inside the penalty area.
Snow had descended on the City of Manchester Stadium during half time, and it had a damaging effect on the flow of the action as both sides attempted to find a sixth goal of the match that could swing the score in their favour.
Shortly after the hour, Sunderland equalised for the second time in the match after an impressive burst of pace from Henderson took him behind the City defence, and he crossed form Kenwyne Jones to head into the net.
© Getty Images
Like in the first half, Sunderland had stunned City and the home side quickly looked devoid of ideas, but with 21 minutes remaining, Santa Cruz netted the seventh goal of a remarkable match to regain the advantage, bundling the ball home from a Gareth Barry cross.
Sunderland attempted a response, but the home side had upped the tempo to try to force their fifth goal, but Vincent Kompany and Stephen Ireland both missed chances to secure three much-needed points.
The visitors were reduced to 10 men in added-on time when Michael Turner was dismissed for an elbow on Barry, and that incident proved to be the last action of an exciting encounter in which City just about deserved the three points.
City ended the day in a top-six position with a game in hand on three of the five teams above them, but two hours after the conclusion of the fixture in Manchester, an announcement from the club stated that Hughes had been removed from his position with immediate effect.
Roberto Mancini was installed as the new boss with Brian Kidd appointed as his assistant, and City went on to win 11 of their remaining 21 games to finish in fifth position in the Premier League table, just three points away from qualifying for the following season's Champions League.