Coach Chris Morgan called Sheffield United's performance 'clinical' after watching the Blades cruise to a 3-0 win over Bristol City.
The visitors had started the afternoon one place above United in the table but the two teams looked worlds apart as goals from John Brayford, Ryan Flynn and a Jose Baxter penalty eased the host's relegation worries.
Despite marching into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, United's League One status remains far from assured.
But, on this evidence at least, Nigel Clough's players should be involved in a promotion battle at the other end of the division rather than a relegation scrap.
"We always knew it wasn't a game to lose," said Morgan, deputising for manager Clough at the post-match media conference.
"And I think the lads have gone out there and applied themselves brilliantly. But what we have to do now is make sure we carry that on. We don't want to relax or ease off because things are still very tight towards the bottom of the table.
"The players, though, do deserve a lot of credit for that. They played some very good football but they also worked very hard for each other. And, in this situation, that's important.
"So the challenge now is to keep that going, maintain the same standards and make sure we are always striving to improve.
"We got ourselves into some good positions and then were clinical when we had to be."
Morgan added: "I think we've been able to take confidence from what we've done in the cup, but the league is still our bread and butter and we want to get ourselves out of trouble and then kick-on.
"Keeping our focus and work ethic are going to be the keys to that."