Robinho struck his first hat-trick for the club and Hughes beamed: "Robinho is key to what we are trying to do here and maybe in the past he has not had that feeling.
"He is responding in a really positive way.
"The crowd adore what he is producing and rightly so. He has a really close relationship with everyone here, which shows what an impact he has made here in a very short space of time."
And, like the rest of an ecstatic 44,000 crowd, Hughes was delighted with Robinho's contribution to a first City league win in over a month.
"Robinho was excellent today," he said.
"It was not just his goals. It was his footballing intelligence and his appreciation of where his team-mates were, where the opposition were and how best to hurt them in an attacking sense.
"His awareness of players around him and understanding of when to play the ball at the correct angle and time with the right pace is as good as I have seen.
"That is the quality he has. What is helping now is he is showing real pleasure and enjoyment in the football he is producing and his role in the team."
Hughes acknowledges there may come a time when he needs to give Robinho a rest.
However, he senses an application to training that could see the 24-year-old get through the season unscathed.
"Maybe there will come a point when his form will dip," said Hughes.
"We have to make sure we have enough information at hand to ensure it is too detrimental and his performances don't tail off markedly.
"I don't think that will happen. Given the way he approaches training and the work we put into him, I can see him having a great season from start to finish."