The Black Cats have saluted just once in their past eight Premier League matches and in the process have fallen to 16th on the table making it a striking contrast to last season under Martin O'Neill.
At the Stadium of Light, things started badly for Sunderland when midfielder Lee Cattermole had to be replaced in the seventh minute with a knee injury which his boss feared was to the same knee he has previously had problems with.
Nonetheless, O'Neill was very flat about the performance which he felt could have been helped if Cattermole remained on the pitch.
"It was a rather frustrating evening, I think frustration would sum it up," O'Neill said.
"It was tough for us. Losing Cattermole so early on in the game disrupted us somewhat, but even so, that's a handicap you have to overcome.
"It was just a frustrating evening.
"It was his other knee that he hurt, funnily enough, in the block challenge (with Samba Diakite) and as we speak now, he's in a lot of pain, so that would be a blow to us if that was the case.
"It seemed as if it was the same knee - I thought immediately that was the case - but it's not, it's his other knee."