FREE-flowing Hartlepool United warmed up for Saturday’s National League opener at Barnet by hammering Sunderland 5-2.
Anthony Mancini was the star of the show with two goals inside two first-half minutes at the Suit Direct Stadium after Chris Wreh had put Pools ahead early on.
After the break, John Askey made nine changes but Pools added to their tally with a Mani Dieseruvwe penalty and Joe Grey’s close-range 79th-minute goal.
Sunderland replied through Alex Pritchard and World Cup player Jewson Bennette, but Pools were irresistible on the night in front of a 6,258 crowd.
Pools boss John Askey did not hold back with his team selection, sending out a starting XI which may not differ wildly from the one he fields on Saturday at Barnet.
David Ferguson returned after a minor problem ruled him out of Friday night’s 2-1 defeat to Harrogate, and skippered Pools against his first club and hometown club.
Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray showed Pools great respect with a quality XI, including Lynden Gooch, Danny Batth and Alex Pritchard, plus Hartlepool-lad-made-good Ellis Taylor, who spent the first half of last season on loan at his hometown team.
Mowbray’s bench was even stronger, including Anthony Patterson, Trai Hume, Dan Ballard, Dan Neil and Jack Clarke.
The atmosphere inside the Suit Direct Stadium was rocking before kick-off, with away supporters housed in both ends and Pools fans in the Neale Cooper and Cyril Knowles stands.
And both ends were silenced when Pools took a fourth-minute lead.
Sunderland lost the ball in defence and while Callum Cooke's effort was blocked, Wreh curled his shot high into Matthew Young’s net.
The Black Cats were level on 13 minutes through Alex Pritchard.
A questionable free-kick was awarded against Mancini just outside the home area and dead-ball specialist Pritchard got the ball over the wall and into Jameson's net from 20 yards.
Undaunted, Pools returned to the attack and only a brave save by Young foiled Umerah after a swift Pools counter-attack from Ferguson and Cooke.
Pools then took charge with two Mancini goals inside two incredible minutes.
Ferguson brought the ball forward on the break and, ignoring Cooke on his outside, played into Umerah, who tees up Mancini, who finished superbly from 12 yards.
Goal two less than 60 seconds later was just as expertly finished.
Sunderland lost the ball after the re-start and Mancini curled his shot into Young's right-hand corner.
It could have been four on 41 minutes with Tom Crawford wide as Pools had another sight at the away goal.
As expected, an almost new Pools side came out for the second half, with only Ferguson and Crawford surviving.
Sunderland made one alteration, sending out keeper Anthony Patterson between the sticks.
The Championship side had a good chance to pull one back on 54 minutes only for Abdoullah Ba’s shot to be deflected wide.
Youth got its chance on 63 minutes with Campbell Darcy and Louis Stephenson sent on for Crawford and Ferguson.
Sunderland pulled a goal back two minutes later when Jewson Bennette beat Joel Dixon with a lovely left-foot finish.
But Pools made it four 15 minutes from time from the penalty spot after Jake Hastie was tripped in the box. Patterson dived to his right as Dieseruvwe placed his penalty to his left.
Number five was not far away.
A calamitous back pass aimed in Patterson’s direction put the keeper in trouble in his six-yard box and the goalie's attempted clearance hit Grey and went into the Town End goal.
It was, sadly, the striker’s last contribution as he limped off injured to be replaced by Leo Robinson.
Pools: Jameson; Dodds, Onariasi, Pruti; Seaman, Crawford, Cooke, Mancini, Paterson; Umerah, Wreh
Pools second half: Dixon; Lacey, Dolan, Burton; Paterson, Grey, Crawford, J Cook, Ferguson; Hastie, Dieseruvwe
Goals: Wreh 4, Mancini 21, 22, Dieseruvwe 75 pen, Grey 79
Sunderland: Young (Patterson 46), Gooch, Trialist, Batth, Johnson (Burke 72), Taylor (Spellman 63), Huggins, Rigg, Bennette, Ba, Pritchard
Goals: Pritchard 13, Bennette 65
Attendance: 6,258 (away 2,832)