After a turbulent week dominated by a team debate and a paint job, Wolves finally did their talking on the pitch to leave their critics licked.
If this is how Wolves play after manager Stale Solbakken has his car vandalised, he might invite yobs to cover his motor in emulsion every week.
Their most convincing performance of the season produced as comfortable a victory as they’re ever likely to have, a career-best goal contender from Kevin Doyle and several top performances with a depleted team now showing 10 casualties.
Whether or not the events of last week had any bearing on Saturday’s game is probably another debate but they say there’s nothing like a siege mentality to bring a team together.
And it certainly looked like there was a fierce determination to prove a few people wrong as Wolves appeared galvanised, much to the relief to Solbakken and the 1,724 travelling supporters.
Statistically, it was their biggest win since beating Blackpool 4-0 at home on February 26, 2011, and their heaviest away triumph since a 4-1 victory at Leicester on May 6, 2007 as they ended a run of four successive away defeats. But this was more than just a desperately-welcome three points or a place in the record books. It was vindication for Solbakken when he has his next team meeting that his methods are working. As the manager admitted afterwards, that factor was as pleasing as the result.
It sparked chants of ‘what a load of rubbish’ for the third game in a row, but for once they weren’t directed at Wolves.
Once ahead, Wolves were simply irresistible, and to a fast-flagging Bristol City outfit, soon uncatchable as the hungry visitors ran riot to be four goals to the good by half-time.
Wolves didn’t look like a team that had gone nine games without a win; functioning fluently and with confidence, they played some fine football for long periods.
And for once it was with purpose, pace and penetration to leave their long-suffering supporters purring with delight.
It was also without the damaging second-half fade-out which has mystified and frustrated. Wolves could have at least doubled their tally after the break, but for the goalkeeping of Tom Heaton, some poor finishing and the woodwork.
There is no formula to tell us when relegated teams shake off the mental and physical malaise of the drop and remove the stench and disease of defeat from their blood and bones. But 20 games into the following season and seven-and-a-half months since relegation this certainly feels more than overdue.
And with this performance, Wolves showed the strongest signs yet that they are finally over last season.
The trick of course is to carry this form into the Birmingham home game on Saturday tea-time and beyond because there is no doubting that if they can, they will be up among the challengers.
Wolves arrived at Ashton Gate having been warned City had improved after ending their seven-match losing streak with a 1-1 draw against Blackpool followed by a 3-1 win at high-flying Middlesbrough, their improved performance carried on into an undeserved 2-0 defeat against Brighton last Tuesday. But there was little sign of form as Wolves blew them away after the first goal.
Man of the match Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who had one of his best games for Wolves on his recall to the team, should have put his side ahead in the fourth minute only to stab wide from six yards out.
But if Wolves fans thought they were in for another wasteful afternoon, they were soon proved wrong as the striker ended his eight-match goal drought by getting the final touch to Stephen Ward’s thunderous volley from their next attack.
Four minutes later he started the move that saw Doyle slide home Bjorn Sigurdarson’s cross to make it 2-0 and you sensed there was no way back for City.
There was no stopping Wolves or Doyle, who provided a truly memorable moment four minutes from the break.
With arguably the club’s finest individual effort for many years, Doyle slalomed some 70 yards after picking the ball up just outside his own penalty area before tucking a left-foot shot past Heaton.
Seconds before the break, the excellent Sigurdarson provided another high-quality moment when he finished off an exquisite move involving Bakary Sako and Ebanks-Blake from almost the same spot as Doyle had just struck.
Roger Johnson then headed against the bar before Ebanks-Blake missed three chances and substitute David Davis curled over. Even Neil Danns’ 30-yard rocket, which ended hopes of a clean sheet five minutes from time, couldn’t take the gloss off a special day for Wolves.
By Tim NashSubscribe to our Newsletter