Chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak was eager to secure Champions League football for the first time, and with the Citizens sitting just three points ahead of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur and his side winning just four of their 10 league games in 2011, the pressure was on the Italian to deliver a positive result against Sunderland.
Mancini was able to call upon striker Carlos Tevez, who had previously been missing because of a groin problem, while winger Adam Johnson was given the opportunity on the flank. As for the visitors, Michael Turner and Lee Cattermole were brought into their starting lineup.
The inclusion of Johnson proved to be a timely one for Mancini as the England international gave his team the advantage after nine minutes after he managed to get on the end of Yaya Toure's cross to strike the ball into the net.
Six minutes later, City doubled their lead as the home crowd began to anticipate a free-scoring afternoon on their home patch. Tevez was taken down by Phil Bardsley in the penalty area, and the Argentine forward directed the ball just out of the reach of Simon Mignolet.
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Sunderland were showing glimmers of a response through the lively Jordan Henderson, but the Black Cats were finding it difficult to discourage City from expressing themselves in the final third, with Aleksandar Kolarov being the next man to test Mignolet after good work from David Silva.
Mario Balotelli had cut a disinterested figure for much of the opening 30 minutes, but he came close to netting another goal for the home side when Silva found him in plenty of space, only for the Italian to fire his effort too close to Mignolet.
Asamoah Gyan was occupying a lonely role in attack for Sunderland, but with the first half nearing a close, he sprung to life by flicking the ball up to create space for himself before curling his attempt marginally wide of the post.
City began the second half with the same intensity as the first 45 minutes, and Sunderland were fortunate to avoid going further behind when Mignolet did well to deny Johnson and Balotelli.
However, the points were finally sealed on 62 minutes when Silva added a third as Tevez and Balotelli combined to allow the Spaniard to convert a routine chance from five yards against the unfortunate Mignolet, who had been providing a one-man barrier against City's attack.
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Mancini took the opportunity to introduce veteran Patrick Vieira for the final 25 minutes, and the Frenchman wasted no time in adding his name to the scoresheet by netting with his first touch after diverting a Kolarov shot into the bottom corner of the net.
City were attacking at will, and despite Mignolet keeping out a Balotelli curler, he could do nothing to stop a fifth home goal as Toure took advantage of a soft Cattermole backpass to poke the ball past a despairing Mignolet.
Sunderland wasted two opportunities to score a consolation goal before the final whistle through Ahmed Elmohamady and Boudewijn Zenden, but City maintained their clean sheet to move past Chelsea in the league standings.
Eight days later, City succumbed to a 3-0 defeat at Anfield against Liverpool, but Mancini was able to guide his side to five wins from their last six fixtures to secure third position, and in the process, keep his job for another campaign.
Sunderland suffered their fourth setback in a row when losing to Birmingham City the following week, but three victories from their last five matches ensured that the North-East outfit finished in 10th position in the Premier League standings.