Manolo Gabbiadini continued his sensational start to his Southampton career by scoring twice in Saturday's 4-0 rout of bottom club Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
The Saints added a third via a Jason Denayer own goal and substitute Shane Long bagged a fourth late on as the EFL Cup finalists claimed a morale-boosting win ahead of their big Wembley date with Manchester United.
It was only the south coast side's second Premier League win since mid-December.
Gabbiadini has taken no time to adapt to the Premier League following his £17m transfer deadline day switch from Napoli.
Thanks to the Italian, the Saints have rediscovered the ruthless streak that has eluded them for most of the season.
Southampton now have a two-week break before the cup final, allowing Claude Puel to give his players full days off to recharge their batteries.
The break due to the FA Cup weekend is both good and bad. Part of Puel would love another game quickly to build momentum.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- Playing Gabbiadini in tandem with Dusan Tadic and Nathan Redmond got the best out of the Italian. Puel also resisted the temptation to tinker with his backline by not taking left-back Ryan Bertrand up on his offer to move into the middle and the clean sheet will boost the confidence of Maya Yoshida and Jack Stephens ahead of the United game.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Fraser Forster, 6 -- Jeered by Sunderland fans because of his Newcastle links but had the last laugh with a shutout. Only had one save to make.
DF Cedric Soares, 7 -- Will wish he could play Sunderland every week. Given so much freedom to get forward and did not have to worry too much about defending.
DF Jack Stephens, 7 -- Bounced back from a poor game in the 3-1 defeat at home to West Ham, justifying Puel's call to keep faith with him.
DF Maya Yoshida, 7 -- Kept Sunderland's main goal threat Jermain Defoe quiet. Can expect a tougher examination up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and company at Wembley in two weeks' time.
DF Ryan Bertrand, 8 -- Set up Gabbiadini's controversial opener and also forced the own goal by Denayer with a pass intended for Long after getting the better of Wahbi Khazri.
MF Oriol Romeu, 8 -- Bullied Sunderland in midfield and played a part in the opener with a pinpoint pass to Bertrand.
MF Steven Davis, 7 -- This was more like the Davis of old with tenacious tackling and non-stop running.
MF James Ward-Prowse, 7 -- The England under-21 captain is benefitting from getting more game time and has put himself in contention for a cup final start.
FW Nathan Redmond, 7 -- Linked up well with the in-form Gabbiadini and caused Sunderland's dodgy defence problems with his pace.
FW Manolo Gabbiadini, 8 -- Got a bit lucky with the opener, which went in off his arm, but took the second well and almost claimed a hat trick with a second-half volley.
FW Dusan Tadic, 7 -- Has been off colour since breaking his nose during the last international break but was much more incisive and supplied Gabbiadini well.
FW Shane Long, N/R -- His late goal and role in Southampton's third will do him the world of good after a largely frustrating season.
MF Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, N/R -- Game was done and dusted by the time he got in with eight minutes left.