Adam Johnson scored just nine minutes into his first start for the club since January before Carlos Tevez doubled City's lead on the quarter-hour mark with a penalty he had won himself.
David Silva and Patrick Vieira then scored in quick succession midway through the second half before Yaya Toure added the fifth to compound Sunderland's misery.
The win means City took full advantage of Chelsea's draw at Stoke on Saturday, and they moved above the champions and into third place, the last of the qualification spots for the Champions League proper.
Sunderland's alarming slide down the table continues. Having taken just one point from the last 21 available to them they remain 12th in the table, just six points off relegation after looking like candidates for Europe not so long ago.
Johnson made his first start for City since injuring his ankle in January, and he looked bright and eager right from the get-go. The England winger was involved in every one of City's early attacks and found himself on the scoresheet before too long when he played a one-two with Yaya Toure and continued his run into the box. Toure picked him out with a reverse pass which the boyhood Sunderland fan dispatched with a clinical low finish.
Soon enough the home side were 2-0 up with Tevez's first goal in eight appearances. The City captain was barged over by Phil Bardsley inside the area, and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet got a hand to the subsequent spot-kick but could not keep it out.
Sunderland striker Asamoah Gyan made fools of several City players with his impressive late equaliser in Ghana's friendly against England on Tuesday, but he was reduced to feeding off scraps in the first half as Sunderland's midfielders continually lost the battles in the centre of the park. His only real sight of goal came when he blasted a shot wide of Joe Hart's goal after teeing himself up for the shot, but the England number one looked to have had it covered.
Defender John Mensah was unfortunate to receive a booking for a foul on Tevez when he had in fact won the ball, but just moments later could have conceded a penalty when his blatant holding of Mario Balotelli inside the box was ignored by the officials.
Things got worse for the Black Cats after the break when, following Mario Balotelli's arcing run ending with his shot being beaten away by Mignolet, City struck twice to seal the result.
First, Silva managed to make even a prod home from close range look classy after Toure had his shot blocked, before Vieira came off the bench to score with his first touch when his header from Aleksandr Kolarov's delivery crossed the line before Mignolet could claw it away.
There was still plenty of time for a fifth, which duly came on 73 minutes when Lee Cattermole played a suicidal backpass right into the path of Toure, who powered into the box and lifted a deft finish over the keeper.
The only player who will be disappointed with the performance is the mercurial Balotelli, who was denied a goal of his own in stoppage time when Mignolet tipped his free-kick spectacularly around the post.
That was the last kick of the game, and the final whistle confirmed that City maintained their 100 per cent home record over Sunderland in the Premier League, winning each of their seven meetings, though none of them in such emphatic fashion as this victory.