SUDDENLY Sunderland’s stuttering start to the campaign has been forgotten. Vibes are a lot more positive on Wearside, and Jack Ross’ side are starting to play with a bit of swagger too.

The Black Cats’ new incoming owners certainly chose the right afternoon to go and watch, as Chris Maguire’s first hat-trick since his only other one in January 2011 did the damage over Wimbledon.

That was not just because the sun was shining for American investors Glenn Fuhrman, John Phelan and Robert Platek as they sat in an executive box at the Stadium of Light.

It was also down to the fact Sunderland turned in one of their most convincing performances under Ross to put on something of a show for the Principals of MSD Partners – and confidence is clearly starting to build among the players again.

Sunderland are still unbeaten and up to fourth, but it is about momentum and after three wins in a row – four in all competitions – there were plenty signs of growing confidence against the Dons.

It was one of the freebies Sunderland have snapped up since relegation from the Championship that did the damage, with former Bury forward Maguire starring in front of the prospective new owners who have got fans hoping for hefty investment in the squad.

The truth is, regardless of how much money those investors have, Sunderland will not be able to just go out and splash the cash to secure back-to-back promotions once the takeover is ratified because of Financial Fair Play rules. The sheer fact that they are an investment group too suggests they will be mindful of how much they spend.

The true level of spending the Americans will commit to is only likely to become clear if Sunderland eventually hit the big time of the Premier League again, although even then it will be how effective they are on the football front. After all, it’s not as if Sunderland haven’t been owned by an American billionaire before, is it?

The presence of Fuhrman, Phelan and Platek alongside director Charlie Methven on Saturday, though, was a welcome sight for Sunderland fans, who created a fantastic atmosphere from start to finish.

And the manner of the performance achieved by Ross’ players proved perfect timing, and should have made other League One teams sit up and take notice.

Wimbledon were never allowed much time on the ball and the only surprise was how long it took Sunderland to wrap the game up because there were numerous chances that went begging.

From the first whistle Sunderland looked hungry to deliver, and managed to keep the ball for long periods to frustrate Wimbledon, despite the visitors’ endeavour in trying to record their own first win of the campaign.

Having set the tone in recent matches, though, the challenge now is to maintain those standards to climb into the top two and stay there.

“It gives everyone a lot of confidence to play like that,” said defender Alim Ozturk. “We have an experienced group, so we were never going to be shaky after a couple of disappointing results. We have strong characters in the dressing room.

“If you win, of course, it makes it easier but it feels really good here anyway. The pitch is nice, the fans are amazing. When you play well, amazing. If you play shit, they’re right to be disappointed. It is a different vibe when you win.

“Last season when we drew matches we were so disappointed in the dressing room. People don’t see that but in the dressing room, we want to win all the games. You need to win most matches at a club like this, especially at home.

“We drew too much here last season for a club like this, you have to win these ones and it gives you something extra if you keep winning. It gives you something a bit extra when you’re tired.”

After the opening weekend draw with Oxford United was followed by a repeat of the 1-1 scoreline at Ipswich, there was a sense of deja vu emerging amongst mutterings of discontent.

The EFL Cup win at Accrington arrived at a nice time and since winning there the victories over Portsmouth and Rochdale clearly laid the foundations for the best of them so far against Wimbledon.

The visitors worked hard enough but lacked the overall quality to threaten enough but Sunderland have slipped up in the past on such occasions; not this time.

“It could have been easier for us,” said Ozturk. “I think we had control of the game and we need to be a little more ruthless, especially here.

“After the first two draws, we knew we needed to get a win. The cup game, we played well there, took three points against Portsmouth which was a big one. Rochdale, they moved the ball better than us but you have to get the three points and if you win games like that, I’ll take it all day long.”

When Maguire scored his first in the eighth minute – after latching on to Jon McLaughlin’s long kick and cleverly lobbing keeper Nathan Trott – Sunderland’s confidence grew and the Wimbledon couldn’t get the ball off them.

Yet, despite boasting almost 70 per cent of the possession in the 25 minutes after that opener, Sunderland were given a reminder that things are there to still work on by allowing Kwesi Appiah the space in the area to head the equaliser in from Luke O’Neill’s cross.

Rather than let standards drop, Sunderland kept going. Charlie Wyke, impressive as a targetman again, went close a couple of times and Aiden McGeady was dangerous throughout, but it was Maguire with the second eight minutes after half-time.

Wimbledon failed to deal with a corner and the 30-year-old, lurking on the edge of the area, latched on to the loose ball and seen his deflected drive fly through a crowded area and into the net.

The third followed 11 minutes from time. Maguire, being asked to play higher up the pitch in a bid to boost his influence, was in the box to head Luke O’Nien’s delivery over the line despite Trott’s best efforts to stop it.

Maguire has tended to score during his career but there has always been a feeling he should get more. This was the second game this season he has scored, taking his tally to four, and his first hat-trick in English football.

There were other chances to extend the lead, like Will Grigg’s unfortunate miss when he worked himself in to a wonderful position to end his wait for a break and then fluffed his lines. Not that it mattered too much, Sunderland – with the Americans looking on – had already done the job.

Ozturk, who endured a tough start to life at Sunderland last season, can’t stop smiling – and is determined to stay in the mix to keep the club driving forward alongside Jordan Willis.

He said: “I know had a poor start last season. I couldn’t recognise myself as a player. I didn’t know what it was. I went home and would just be crazy. My wife would say, ‘easy, it will come’. I have always been ready.

“The way we play, we want to play with high pressure and I think me and Jordan are different defenders. It feels good playing next to him and hopefully it stays the same. It’s going well and I hope we can continue that. That was a nice gift for him today on his birthday, three points.”