The Black Cats didn't offer much of a fight initially, succumbing to some superb football from the Blues, who raced into a 3-0 lead with a brace from Fernando Torres and a Juan Mata goal.
The Mackems pulled one back, through Adam Johnson, but despite salvaging a little pride, it was not enough and Rafa Benitez could breathe a sigh of relief after a second victory in a week.
Here are the complete ratings for the Blues. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below and whether this represents a turning point in the new era under Benitez.
Petr Cech: 5/10
Might be disappointed with the way he handled the Johnson goal. It was terrifically struck by the wing wizard, but it was such a tight angle that you expect such a top-quality goalkeeper to be able to divert the ball away from goal.
Branislav Ivanovic: 6/10
Some typically surging runs forward and solid defensively. A decent performance as he continues to be shifted between centre-back and right-back.
Gary Cahill: 6.5/10
Fine performance at the back, comfortable in possession and taking on more leadership in the absence of John Terry.
David Luiz: 6.5/10
Like Cahill, Luiz was assured at the back and the two appear to be much more settled as a pairing than they were when Roberto Di Matteo assembled them together in Terry's absence.
Ashley Cole: 6/10
Endured a tricky afternoon up against Johnson, who enjoyed running at the England left-back. Cole gave as good as he got, without keeping the Sunderland winger completely quiet. Honours even in this duel.
Typical drive and energy in the midfield, covering even more ground than usual when his partner his crime, Romeu, was stretchered off injured. Oscar hardly replaced the Spaniard like-for-like and left the Brazilian a little more exposed. No complaints from the former Benfica man, who mops up everything and is typically eager to burst beyond Fernando Torres whenever possible.
Oriol Romeu: n/a
Stretchered off injured after 20 minutes. Had no impact on the game to be able to be judged here.
Some imaginative passes and forays forward from the gifted Brazilian. Blended the midfield with the attack beautifully and worked tirelessly to maintain an attacking contribution and occasionally cover Ramires when he was allowed to bomb forward.
One shining moment was a sublime, scooped through pass that left the whole stadium drawing breath as Juan Mata looked to meet the pass and poke it beyond Mignolet.
Frank Lampard: 6.5/10
A solid impact when he replaced Eden Hazard in the second half. The Chelsea legend unleashed a fine effort that was beaten away well by Simon Mignolet. Offered that calming influence in the midfield and prevented Sunderland from exposing Ramires on the break.
Ryan Bertrand: 6/10
Offered the Blues more cover down the left flank in order to stifle the lively Adam Johnson and ensure that Ashley Cole was not left exposed. Pushed Sunderland wide man onto the other wing, where he duly provided a goal. But Bertrand did his job admirably.
Juan Mata: 7/10
Worked his magic short and long, mesmerising the Sunderland defenders with his wand of a left boot. Mata has both desire and hunger to complement his wonderful technical gifts, which Oscar and Hazard could learn from. The Spaniard reacted brilliantly to convert Torres' shot that cannoned off the bar.
Eden Hazard: 7/10
A real threat on the break and capable of dancing past opponents for fun. Becoming much more direct and showed this for Torres' first goal, providing a delightful assist for the Spaniard.
His silk dribbling skills are enough to drive a full-back insane, and he drove Phil Bardsley absolutely bonkers throughout the game until the Sunderland defender was put out of his misery by Martin O'Neill.
Fernando Torres: 8.5/10
Finally a decisive performance from Torres. It was not just the two goals, but a more involved display, linking the midfield, particularly with Oscar, and holding the ball as others burst beyond him.
Yes, this is not quite the same Torres that we grew to love while he was at Liverpool, Torres 2.0 if you like, but he has shown he could be capable of contributing a lot to the Blues in the future.
Now a more instinctive striker than before, due to his inability to glide past the opposing defenders, Torres showed this with his first goal, as well as his assist for Mata's goal, reacting smartly in the penalty area to direct the ball toward goal with a single touch.
Another promising sign was the willingness to grab the ball for the penalty and dispatch it with great confidence by sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.
Victor Moses: 6.5/10
Terrific pace and raw athleticism are giving Chelsea a different dimension in attack. The Nigerian was a constant threat, even if he wasn't at his most devastating best.
The former Wigan player is offering Benitez work rate as well as productiveness on the ball, with the highest pass completion rate of any Blues player who played more than 20 minutes.
Disappointing finish when slipped through by Mata in the first half, dragging his shot wide of Mignolet's goal despite having plenty of time and space.