Ashley Young struck twice as Manchester United swept to a 3-1 victory over Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday to close the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City to two points.
Wayne Rooney gave Sir Alex Ferguson's side the lead against the run of play 30 seconds before the break and Young made it two in the 60th minute after Spurs had once again dominated the start of the second period.
When the England winger added an excellent second in the 69th minute, the home side's spirit was finally broken.
An 87th minute reply by Jermain Defoe offered precious little consolation for the home side.
Victory over Harry Redknapp's third-placed side was the perfect response by United to City's win against Bolton the previous day and served as a powerful statement of intent in the title race.
But for Spurs, who have not beaten United since 2001, there was yet more disappointment after last weekend's chastening 5-2 defeat in the north London derby at Arsenal and they now sit just four points ahead of Arsene Wenger's side.
The manner of the defeat at the Emirates Stadium -- Tottenham capitulated after taking a two-goal lead -- raised questions about their ability to last the course in the battle for third place.
And, while their performance in the opening hour confirmed their qualities, a second successive defeat means they must recover quickly if they are to ensure a top four finish.
The withdrawal of Gareth Bale before the game after an overnight illness came as another blow to a team already without Scott Parker and Rafael van der Vaart.
But Aaron Lennon deputised impressively for Bale as Spurs quickly assumed control of the game and dominated the first half.
Lennon's pace caused no end of problems for the visitors' defence and with more luck, Tottenham would have reached the interval ahead.
Emmanuel Adebayor offered the first sign of his side's threat with a rising, long-range drive that flew narrowly over David De Gea's crossbar.
And the United keeper was again called into action moments later to parry Louis Saha's shot to safety.
Adebayor carved out another opening, collecting the ball from deep before advancing into the area but De Gea produced an excellent stop when the Togo forward was favourite to score.
Then when the striker did eventually work the ball into the net in the 37th minute, the effort was ruled out for handball.
Having dominated the first 45 minutes so comprehensively, Tottenham's failure to gain reward for their efforts began to look as though it could costly, especially when Rooney headed United in front just before the break.
Rooney was back in the line-up after a throat infection and had offered his side's only threat during a disappointing half.
He took advantage of slack Tottenham marking to stoop and head home from Young's corner to give Ferguson's side a fortunate lead.
Tottenham responded well, maintaining the tempo they had shown during the first half after the break, and United quickly found themselves once again on the back foot.
Once again it was De Gea who denied the home side, this time in the 51st minute when Jake Livermore's shot deflected off Adebayor, forcing the keeper into an excellent reaction save.
Sustained home pressure seemed certain to bring a goal.
Yet instead of a Tottenham leveller, the next, decisive, strike came at the other end when Young doubled United's lead in the 60th minute against the run of play.
Nani worked his way to the right hand byline and drilled a low ball across the face of the Tottenham goal and Young struck at the far post after Kyle Walker had half-cleared.
Young had been quiet before his first goal but he demonstrated his quality with a second strike that was curled in from the edge of the area in the 69th minute.
Defoe pounced on a misplaced 87th minute pass by Ryan Giggs to finally beat De Gea but it was too late to affect the outcome.