Three goals in 11 first-half minutes helped Manchester City sweep aside Sunderland 4-1 at the Etihad but captain Vincent Kompany's return from injury lasted only nine minutes to take the gloss of the victory.
Raheem Sterling, Yaya Toure and Wilfried Bony all struck in the opening 23 minutes before Kevin De Bruyne got in on the act early in the second half when Kompany was still on the bench.
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City's defensive fragility without the skipper was evident once more, though, as Fabio Borini's effort denied them a clean sheet - the 10th time in the Barclays Premier League they have failed to shut the opposition out when their captain has not been present.
And although Kompany was brought on for his first appearance since November 8 shortly afterwards, that comeback proved to be short-lived as the Belgian was forced off again after appearing to injury himself when he tried to poke the ball away from Borini.
It casts his availability for the clash at high-flying Leicester on Tuesday in doubt and City then travel to Watford, Everton and Norwich in a tricky run of four successive away games.
Like Kompany, Sergio Aguero started on the City bench, but it was Sunderland's starting line-up that included more surprises.
Forwards Danny Graham, Steven Fletcher and Borini all started and Vito Mannone was selected ahead of ex-City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon for his first Premier League start of the campaign.
It proved to be a decision that backfired as Mannone was beaten on three occasions early on.
Sterling had earned an early caution for diving when he cut past Billy Jones in the area, but the full-back was not close enough to stop the England international breaking the deadlock after 12 minutes with a header from De Bruyne's fizzing right-wing cross.
Mannone was picking the ball out of his net again five minutes later when Toure trotted forward and steered a 25-yard left-foot try into the far corner, and it was 3-0 soon afterwards as De Bruyne's free-kick was glanced beyond the hapless Mannone from 15 yards by Bony's downward header.
However, City did once again look shaky at the back in Kompany's absence and Graham should have scored when heading wide, while Joe Hart was forced into his only save of the half from Borini.
Mannone managed to stop one effort early in the second half from David Silva after a clever flick from the brilliant De Bruyne, who was soon on the scoresheet himself before the hour.
He had intended to tee up Bony and although Sebastian Coates' slide tackle took the ball away from him, it rolled into the Belgian's path and left him with a simple finish for his 10th City goal.
The home side were able to introduce Kompany just after the hour, yet only after they conceded once again without him on the pitch. Substitute Lee Cattermole's scuffed shot found its way through to Borini and, at the second attempt, he beat Hart at the near post
Kompany was then introduced to cheers from a record attendance and he did hang around long enough to see Bony blaze a penalty over after Silva was tripped by Coates, seemingly outside of the area.
That crowd then fell silent as Kompany's number four was flashed on the fourth official's board when Martin Demichelis came on with 19 minutes to go, and the captain shook his head before heading straight down the tunnel with home fans once again fearing the worst.
TOTTENHAM 3, NORWICH 0
Harry Kane became Tottenham's highest league scorer in a calendar year as his first-half double fired Spurs to a 3-0 victory over struggling Norwich.
Kane's two goals, the first from the penalty spot, means he now has 27 league goals in 2015 and has broken Teddy Sheringham's previous club record of 26.
Substitute Tom Carroll rounded off the victory with a superb second-half strike as Mauricio Pochettino's side move three points clear of Manchester United in the race for the Champions League. Norwich sit 17th.
It took four seconds for the first 'one our own chants' to break out around White Hart Lane as Kane continues to make light of those early one-season wonder predictions, his tally now 11 goals in the league and 13 in all competitions.
Dele Alli was the provider for both and the midfielder played another impressive supporting role before going off to a standing ovation late on.
Norwich, meanwhile, were unable to follow up their surprise win at Old Trafford and they now have 24 hours to prepare for a crunch basement battle at home to Aston Villa on Monday.
The Canaries were the brighter side early on as Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe's bending shot from distance was pushed wide by Hugo Lloris and then Cameron Jerome climbed highest at a corner but headed over.
Alli, however, was finding more and more space behind the Norwich midfield and it was his deft reverse pass that led to the opening goal, Kane nicking the ball around Rudd before feeling the clip of the keeper's gloves and tumbling over.
There was no further punishment for Rudd given Kane's touch had taken him away from goal but referee Mike Jones pointed to the spot and the Spurs striker confidently drilled the penalty home.
The goal seemed to drain the belief out of Norwich as the half ended with Alli jinking past Russell Martin with a nutmeg and Toby Alderweireld going close with two free headers, the first saved well by Rudd.
Tottenham had thrown away 11 points from winning positions before kick-off, the second most in the league, so it was perhaps no surprise that Pochettino was raging after the restart, geeing up the crowd and hounding his players to go in search of a third.
Alli should have scored it after he played a sharp one-two with Erik Lamela but with only Rudd to beat, he found the keeper's legs.
The midfielder was involved again soon after as his driving run forward saw the ball fall kindly for Lamela, who tried an audacious rabona only for Rudd to dive across and make the save.
Spurs were rampant but Norwich hung on and the Canaries enjoyed a better spell after the hour.
There were cries for a penalty when Jerome was wiped out by Lloris in the area but the French keeper punched the ball away first and Jones appeared right to wave play on.
Any hopes of a Norwich comeback, however, were extinguished in the 74th minute when Carroll, three minutes after coming on as a substitute, smashed a swerving shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner.
As the 23-year-old, an academy graduate, celebrated his first league goal in a Tottenham shirt, the White Hart Lane faithful ended the match as they began, breaking into another rendition of 'one of our own'.
ASTON VILLA 1, WEST HAM 1
Jordan Ayew rescued a point for battling Aston Villa as they were held to a 1-1 draw by West Ham.
Remi Garde is still searching for his first win as Villa boss despite coming from behind to close the gap to safety.
Aaron Cresswell ended the Hammers' goal drought with their first strike in 388 minutes but Ayew's second-half penalty levelled.
Villa huffed and puffed without real quality and Rudy Gestede wasted two golden chances while Jordan Veretout was denied by Adrian.
A draw means they will have to win half of their remaining 20 games to meet boss Garde's survival target of 10 victories.
They remain bottom and sit nine points from safety while the disappointing Hammers are on course for a season of mediocrity in mid-table.
Slaven Bilic's side are now winless in eight games and they were second best for most of the afternoon and Villa came closet to opening the scoring on 17 minutes.
They had already begun to test the visitors problems before Gestede, back for Scott Sinclair, directed Veretout's brilliant cross wide from eight yards.
Villa produced their most consistent half in the league this season and stretched the visitors with some snappy football.
Garde's influence, almost two months after arriving, was evident with the manager trying to grant his players freedom in their dire situation.
Adrian saved Leandro Bacuna's drive and then Gestede's follow up as Villa pressed without making a dent.
In contrast the Hammers were limp going forward and it was easy to see why Bilic's side had failed to score in their previous three matches.
Mauro Zarate had seen an early drive turned wide by Brad Guzan but it remained their sole chance as they continued to waste openings.
The Hammers were dangerous on the break but continued to falter in the final third with Enner Valencia and Michail Antonio guilty.
Antonio blazed over two minutes before the break but the Hammers did strike in first-half stoppage time to stun the hosts.
First, Valencia was given time on the edge of the box and, although he scuffed his shot, Cheikhou Kouyate deflected it onto the top of the bar.
It was a let-off for Villa but one they failed to heed when, a minute later, Cresswell was given time and space to unleash a rasping 20-yard drive which flew low past Guzan.
But Villa should have levelled four minutes after the break when Gestede planted a header over from seven yards.
He was then denied by Adrian, who had already saved well from Veretout, on 58 minutes as Villa pressed.
The keeper was finally beaten in the 62nd minute, though, after the hosts deservedly levelled.
Gestede managed to wriggle ahead of Angelo Ogbonna in a sprint to the ball and the West Ham man dragged him down inside the box.
Ayew sent Adrian the wrong way from the spot to breathe life into Villa Park.
Desperately searching for their first win since the opening day Villa continued to boss the game with the Hammers soaking up the pressure.
And the hosts came close to a winner with 15 minutes left when James Collins nodded Alan Hutton's header off the line.
But Guzan had to ensure a point at the death when he turned Valencia's deflected free kick wide.
SWANSEA 1, WEST BROM 0
Swansea climbed out of the bottom three as Ki Sung-yueng's first goal of the season ended their four-month run without a Barclays Premier League home win.
Ki's ninth-minute strike, bundled home from close range, was enough to see off West Brom 1-0 and close the gap on Tony Pulis' struggling Albion side to two points.
It was certainly not pretty from a Swansea team still without a permanent manager since the sacking of Garry Monk over two weeks ago, but caretaker boss Alan Curtis has instilled plenty of fight and determination in his charges.
Albion forced them on the defensive for long periods, especially in the second half, but they could not find a way past a resilient Swansea rearguard in which Leon Britton and Ashley Williams were outstanding.
Both teams came into the contest low on confidence with Swansea bottom of the form table having failed to win in seven games and Albion equalling their worst run under Pulis - four matches without victory.
So it was no surprise that the football was a long way from the free-flowing variety with even the nature of Ki's ninth-minute summing up much of what was to come.
Swansea actually put together a neat attack with Wayne Routledge taking Andre Ayew's lay-off to play the ball into the path of Angel Rangel.
The Spanish full-back wasted no time firing against the post and the ball hit the back of Boaz Myhill, but the Albion goalkeeper fumbled as he tried to gather and Ki was on hand to tap home for his first goal since May.
Gylfi Sigurdsson soon shot straight at Myhill and it appeared as if Swansea's easy-on-the-eye style was coming back into their game.
But Swansea lost their way in what was to become an increasingly scrappy first period and West Brom, with skipper Darren Fletcher constantly probing from midfield, edged the balance of play.
The downside for Albion was that they created little in terms of scoring opportunities, although they did have genuine claims for a penalty when Rangel barged into Chris Brunt just inside the box after 28 minutes.
Brunt fired wide from distance with Lukasz Fabianski's handling only being tested at a succession of set-pieces, one of which left him requiring treatment after taking a bang in the ribs.
Swansea did manage to rediscover some fluency just before the break as Jefferson Montero saw his effort blocked by Jonas Olsson and Ayew, preferred in the main striking role to Bafetimbi Gomis, dragged his shot wide from 25 yards.
But Albion started the second period with purpose as James Morrison and Rickie Lambert brought saves from Fabianski, even if the Poland goalkeeper was not too unduly troubled, and the introductions of Saido Berahino and Stephane Sessegnon was another positive statement from the visitors.
Sessegnon set up a half-chance for Lambert which was squeezed past the near post as Albion piled on the pressure, Berahino seeing his shot blocked before Craig Dawson's header ended in the grateful arms of Fabianski.
But Swansea held on for only their second win in 14 games and their first at home since beating Manchester United at the end of August.
BOURNEMOUTH 0, CRYSTAL PALACE 0
Bournemouth and Crystal Palace shared the points in a goalless Barclays Premier League draw at the Vitality Stadium.
The Cherries, seeking their fourth successive win for the first time since 1989, were frustrated by the high-flying Eagles.
Palace started the game strongly and the home side took five minutes to get into the match, giving away two corners in the first few minutes. However, Jason Puncheon's deliveries could not be converted and the hosts began to slow the ball down and gain control.
The visitors nearly went ahead after eight minutes when Puncheon's third corner from the left found Damien Delaney - but Cherries goalkeeper Artur Boruc got low down to keep the match goalless.
Adam Smith and Matt Ritchie caused Palace a few problems on the right, with Bournemouth's best attacking chances coming from crosses from the pair.
Yet it was Dan Gosling who came closest for the Cherries in the first half with the midfielder's looping shot saved by the hand of Palace goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.
Just after the half hour mark, Harry Arter received the only yellow card of the afternoon after sliding in on Wilfried Zaha. After words were exchanged between the pair, referee Michael Oliver calmed the situation down before it got out of control.
Bournemouth striker Glenn Murray had chances to score against his former side before he was replaced on 72 minutes by Tokelo Rantie. The 32-year-old played 113 league games for Palace between 2012 and 2015 and scored 44 goals for the Eagles.
Both sides struggled to make an impact in the box during the second half but it was Bournemouth who looked the more threatening. Ritchie had the chance to open the scoring but his scuffed shot was easily saved by Hennessey.
The Cherries continued to pile on the pressure but the Palace defence stood strong, despite Delaney appearing to be injured as he blocked a Rantie cross. Palace boss Alan Pardew had used his three substitutes so the centre-half had no choice but to continue.
Both sides had chances to win but in a game that was played mostly in the midfield it came as no surprise the clash remained goalless until the final whistle.