SUNDERLAND signed off with a whimper as they lost their final game of the season to Swansea City.
Already guaranteed to remain in the Premier League after a four-game winning run, the Black Cats finished the campaign in 14th after a 3-1 defeat to the Swans.
Nathan Dyer and Marvin Emnes scored inside the opening 15 minutes as Sunderland were unable to reproduce the energy and intensity that had carried them to wins over Chelsea, Cardiff, Manchester United and West Brom.
Fabio Borini pulled a goal back at the start of the second half, but Wilfried Bony scored a third for Swansea to inflict Sunderland's 20th defeat of the campaign.
Nevertheless, with their survival secured, Gustavo Poyet's players were still able to enjoy a post-match lap of honour safe in the knowledge that they will be playing top-flight football again next season.
Poyet made two changes to the side that had played in Sunderland's previous five games, with Phil Bardsley and Liam Bridcutt replacing Marcos Alonso and Lee Cattermole.
However, it was Swansea who were brightest from the off, and the Black Cats found themselves two goals behind within the opening 15 minutes.
Both goals were well worked from a Swansea perspective, although both owed much to the kind of desperate Sunderland defending that had been so prevalent a few months ago.
Bardsley, playing on the left of the back four, was at fault for Swansea's opener, allowing Dyer to get on the wrong side of him as he raced on to Wayne Routledge's through ball. Dyer steadied himself before chipping a deft finish past Vito Mannone.
Seven minutes later and it was John O'Shea's turn to be found wanting, as he afforded Middlesbrough loanee Emnes far too much room on the edge of the area. Having received the ball from Bony, Emnes spun away from O'Shea and drilled a fierce strike past Mannone's right hand.
Jonjo Shelvey almost added a Swansea third, curling narrowly past the right-hand upright, but Sunderland finally roused themselves to strike the woodwork when Seb Larsson's cross flicked off Jordi Amat's head to wrong-foot Gerhard Tremmel before hitting the base of the right-hand post.
Bardsley came close six minutes before the interval with a strike that flew wide of the target, and the full-back forced Tremmel to tip his rising drive over the crossbar a minute before the break. However, half-time arrived with Swansea full value for their two-goal lead.
Sunderland started the second half much more brightly, though, and pulled a goal back within five minutes of the break.
Adam Johnson delivered an inswinging corner from the right, and Borini broke clear of his marker to glance home a near-post header.
Four minutes later, however, and Swansea had restored their two-goal lead. Emnes cut the ball back from the left-hand side, and the impressive Bony turned past Bardsley before drilling home a low strike via the base of the left-hand post.
Sunderland came close with 20 minutes left when Tremmel had to get down well to parry Seb Larsson's whipped free-kick