THE top half of the Championship remains elusive territory for Hull City.
Not since the final weekend of August, 2017, have the Tigers been found on the first page when Jeff Stelling and the Sky Sports boys turn to the table shortly after 5pm.
But, after this scintillating demolition job on Bolton Wanderers, surely the only way is up for the East Riding club under Nigel Adkins.
Just seven points separate Hull in 13th place from Derby County in the final play-off berth.
To put that into context, Fulham were half-a-dozen points adfrift of the top six at this stage last season and yet still went on to clinch promotion at Wembley in May.
Adkins, whose side have won eight of their last dozen outings, may wish to play down such hopes in the wake of City’s biggest win since Charlton Athletic were thrashed by the same margin in January, 2016.
But many more performances like this and the rest of the Championship will simply have to take note of a side who kicked off December in the bottom three.
Kamil Grosicki was the catalyst. Not only did the Polish international score two of the afternoon’s first three goals but he also created the other for Evandro with a typically-clever piece of skill.
It underlined just what a special player he can be when on song. Cynics may point to Grosicki’s recent return to form coinciding with an upcoming transfer window.
He has spent each of the last three windows since the club was relegated from the Premier League itching to get away from East Yorkshire.
David Meyler, his then team-mate, even joked about a cryptic deadline day message from Grosicki on Twitter about there being 45 minutes left for deals to be done. “45 minutes for what?” tweeted Meyler. “You’re not going anywhere, Turbo. Go to bed.”
Last August, Grosicki was in Turkey when a proposed move to Trabzonspor collapsed at the 11th hour and speculation already linking him with a possible move to Sporting Lisbon and St Etienne suggests we are in for more of the same this month.
In the meantime, Hull should just enjoy the benefits that accompany a fit and firing Grosicki.
Grosicki’s finish to make the breakthrough just before the half hour, after his initial effort had been blocked, was so rapid that goalkeeper Ben Alnwick barely moved.
Slowly but surely, we have turned the corner. And hopefully we continue to ride this wave and progress up the table.Hukll City assistant coach, Andy Crosby
His second strike on 63 minutes was even more impressive, the Pole darting forward before curling an exquisite shot beyond Alnwick from 20 yards.
Less than 60 seconds earlier, Grosicki had turned creator with a lovely run and pinpoint pass that found Evandro inside the Bolton penalty area. He took one touch and finished with aplomb.
Almost immediately, Adkins withdrew the mercurial Brazilian as he continues to manage his recovery from injury.
City, however, were in no mood to let Bolton off the hook and Chris Martin broke his own scoring duck at the 16th attempt in a City shirt.
A lovely passing move left the visitors chasing shadows, allowing Jon Toral, Evandro’s replacement from the bench, to pull an inch-perfect pass back for Martin to finish from close range.
Martin should really have had a second goal as the game entered the final quarter but he fired against the crossbar from a Grosicki cross.
Jarrod Bowen then brought a wonderful reflex save from Alnwick after latching on to the rebound before Markus Henriksen saw his own follow-up blocked.
Bolton, whose best chance had been wasted by Clayton Donaldson when 1-0 down just before the break, simply could not cope by now and the fifth goal duly arrived 14 minutes from time.
Again, Toral was involved with a deft pass that allowed Bowen to skip inside his marker before finding the net, although Hull were not finished there.
Time still remained for Dicko to break his own duck for the season with a close-range finish following a knock down from Jordy de Wijs.
Assistant mcoach Andy Crosby said: “It has been on a downward spiral for a couple of years, coming out of the Premier League and not finding it easy. Slowly but surely, we have turned the corner.
“And hopefully we continue to ride this wave and progress up the table.”
Hull City: Marshall; Lichaj, Burke, de Wijs, Kingsley; Stewart (Batty 73), Henriksen; Bowen, Evandro (Toral 65), Grosicki; Martin (Dicko 78). Unused substitutes: Long, Kane, Keane, McKenzie.
Bolton Wanderers: Alnwick; Lowe, Wheater, Beevers, Grounds; O’Neil, Wilson (Oztumer 46), Donaldson (Noone 64), Vela; Ameobi (Olkowski 82), Doidge. Unused substitutes: Matthews, Hobbs, Murphy. Magennis.
Referee: T Harrington (Cleveland).