Hearts clinically destroyed Dundee United at Tannidice with a four-goal salvo, with bottom side United now having conceded 15 goals in their past four matches.
Striker Andy Kirk did his utmost to command a future regular place with a confident double, sandwiched between a goal by Robert Tomaschek and one from defender Kevin James, as the Tynecastle men lifted their on-field mood despite financial difficulties.
Another heavy defeat, though, for United, and it is difficult to see any signs of improvement on their horizon.
In an attempt to halt their dismal run, United chief Alex Smith rang changes to freshen up the side. Recent signing Stephen Wright was allocated a right-back berth and recalls ensued for Stephen Thompson, David Partridge, Joachim Fernandez and Jamie Buchan from the outfit which was easily brushed aside 3-0 at Rangers.
Hearts, their spirit not helped by their compulsory sale of Gary Naysmith to Everton on Friday, at least had a regular look about them, welcoming influential Slovak midfielder Tomaschek back.
New Jambo, Gordon Durie, enjoying a new lease of life in maroon, almost embarrassed United in the first minute, when his teasing cross from the right was turned away by Wright at the far post.
United obviously had not learned their recent lessons, when Hearts opened the scoring in the eighth minute with a simply-constructed goal.
Steve Fulton, playing in the left-back role, swung in a harmless looking cross midway inside United’s half, and while the Tangerines’ defence looked on, Tomaschek had the simplest of tasks to direct his 12-yard header into the corner of the net.
Mvondo Atangana realised that he should have done much better when he hurriedly volleyed over from close range whilst unattended in the home side’s first tangible glimpse at goal after 19 minutes.
Hearts though were rampant and got a simple second. Again it was a case of no defence, as young Ulsterman Kirk drilled in a shot inside the box after United’s failure to deal with a low Juanjo corner in the 24th minute.
The two combined again on the half-hour mark for a third.
The Spaniard muscled his way through the goal-line, before his precise cutback was swiftly despatched by the 21-year-old Northern Ireland internationalist.
Former Arab Gordan Petric almost delivered another stunning blow, but his speculative 25-yarder went inches past the post.
United showed a little more urgency at the start of the second half, with Hasney Aljofree blasting a free-kick over before their frustration took hold, with David Partridge booked for a ruthless lunge on Durie.
For the previous 57 minutes, United’s new Argentian Marcelino Galoppo was anonymous but it was his intelligent pass which set up a half-chance for Angana - only for the striker to divert an effort onto the side netting.
Angana was then strangely withdrawn along with Galoppo as United boss Alex Smith sent on another continental pairing of Greek Tassos Venitis and Uruguayan Carlos Marcora.
Petric was denied only by a superbly instinctive save by Combe, as the towering defender got himself onto the end of a Fulton corner in the 71st minute.
United’s striking poverty was all too graphically illustrated, when Antti Niemi saved a weak Steven Thompson header before Venetis passed up another clear opportunity.
The Tangerines’ pressure improved, and although Venetis blasted a good attempt over, the danger to Hearts was minimal.
James endeared himself to the travelling fans when he side-footed through the United defence after being set up by Durie for Hearts’ fourth. The goal, in the 80th minute, completed the romp.
Dundee Utd: Combe, Wright (McQuillan 28), De Vos, Partridge, Aljofree, Fernandez, Galoppo (Venetis 62), Buchan, Thompson, Fuentes, Atangana (Marcora 62). Subs Not Used: Onstad, Ramriez
Hearts: Niemi, Pressley, James, Petric, Fulton (Jackson 81), Juanjo, Murray, Cameron (Flogel 79), Tomaschek, Durie, Kirk (McSwegan 83). Subs Not Used: Rousset, Graham
Ref: S Dougal (Scotland)