Bent had signalled his intent by travelling to Wearside. But the deal was not done quickly, so, to add some motivation, Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn handed Bent a DVD of Kevin Phillips's goals in red and white.
'OK, not much pressure there, then,' Bent thought to himself.
Too hot to handle: Darren Bent continued his superb scoring streak for Sunderland to hit the opening goal against Birmingham
The warmth in the applause Phillips received at the Stadium of Light as a Birmingham substitute was a reminder of those goals.
BENT'S LEAGUE RECORD Ipswich: Played 5; Goals 1.Charlton: P 68; G 31.Tottenham: P 60; G 18.Sunderland: P 30; G 20.
Total: 70. Left foot: 12.Right foot: 44. Headers: 13.Body: 1. Inside area: 56.Outside: 3. Penalties: 11.
Bent now has 21 in his 32 appearances for Sunderland. The two slick finishes here in the opening 11 minutes took him closer to Phillips in terms of numbers and affection.
'I knew what a fantastic striker he was and everything he did here,' said Bent of Phillips.
'I had six or seven days up here at the training ground doing nothing. So I watched the DVDs, saw Kevin in action and got a feel for what it meant to be a Sunderland striker and how special they are for the fans here.
Out of sight: Cameron Jerome lifts a shot over defender Phil Bardsley but not enough to trouble Sunderland
MATCH FACTS SUNDERLAND (4-4-2) Gordon 8;Hutton 7, Turner 6, Mensah 6(Bardsley 72min, 6) Ferdinand 6;Campbell 7, Meyler 6, Richardson 6,Malbranque 6 (Cattermole 80, 5);Benjani 5 (Henderson 72, 6), Bent 7.
BIRMINGHAM (4-4-2) Hart 7; Carr 7,Dann 5, Johnson 6, Ridgewell 6;Gardner 6, Ferguson 6, Michel 6(Bowyer 72, 6) Fahey 6 (McFadden60, 6); Jerome 7, Benitez 6 (Phillips60, 6). Booked: Gardner.
Man of match: Craig Gordon.Referee: Peter Walton.
'Seeing and hearing the reception he got from the crowd here justdrives me on to want to follow in his footsteps and become a legend.
'I was looking in the programme and they were listing the top 10 goalscorers for Sunderland. It would be amazing to be among them one day.'
The victory took Sunderland 10 points clear of the drop zone. But for a fine display from Craig Gordon, Birmingham would have equalised after Cameron Jerome scored on the hour.
Not until the 88th minute could Steve Bruce relax, Fraizer Campbell poking in Jordan Henderson's cross.
Black Cats hell Bent on survival after Birmingham winKevin Phillips tells Birmingham to splash the cash or risk relegationSUNDERLAND FC