AS Lincoln City comfortably closed out the final moments of their first win since August, their raucous fans taunting the Wearsiders, Sunderland can rarely have felt further from their Premier League days.

They were relegated from the top-flight at the end of 2016-17, a season that began away to Manchester City whereas Lincoln started that campaign at Woking.

Yet here we are now with Sunderland sixth in League One and turning in a performance that Jack Ross admitted was “miles way from being good enough to win games”.

“Disappointed and embarrassed,” was how defender Joel Lynch described it.

Angry and disillusioned, there were boos at half-time and some Black Cats supporters headed for the exit long before the final whistle had blown on their 2-0 defeat.

They have endured too many lows over the past few years, and this was another of those days to forget only a fortnight since the last one.

Away to Bolton Wanderers, a club in crisis that cobbled together a team on deadline-day, Sunderland suffered embarrassment, though at least on that day Aiden McGeady salvaged a point with a late penalty.

Sunderland did not come close to salvaging anything on Saturday, second-best throughout at Sincil Bank and well-beaten by a team that had won one of their previous 11 matches after struggling to emerge from their post-Danny Cowley slumber.

After inspiring Lincoln’s two promotions in three seasons he has moved on to Huddersfield Town with Michael Appleton replacing him, and there are many among the Black Cats supporters who want to see a change of manager at the Stadium of Light.

“Ross out” was trending on Twitter, though any such chants on Saturday were drowned out by the vociferous Lincoln fans with the 10,264 attendance a record since Sincil Bank became an all-seater ground.

They have a singing section, beside the away fans which gets the whole ground rocking and an air raid siren sounds after each of their goals.

Sunderland were thankful it was not heard more often, because the 2-0 scoreline flattered them.

These are halcyon days for the Imps, whereas Sunderland supporters were more subdued and seemingly apathetic, there was not the level of anger among the 1,900 away supporters as witnessed at Bolton, but it is clear something needs to change.

While the takeover drags on and it can be assumed Ross will remain in position at least until that situation is resolved, but his team on Saturday, despite being the same XI which beat MK Dons a week earlier, were lacking in every department.

“Today wasn’t good enough, the result and the performance shows that and we need to turn that around quickly,” admitted defender Jordan Willis.

“You can see from watching that it’s not what we’re about. We need to put it right as soon as possible.

“They were bright early on. They started and put us on the back foot from the first whistle.

“We had to deal with that and didn’t see that period out, there was still a long way to go in the game from there but we didn’t manage to turn it around from there.”

Lincoln kept Sunderland pinned in their own half for lengthy spells and their opening goal on 17 minutes was just reward.

Chris Maguire had attempted a switch of play but Lincoln cut out the pass, Imps right-back Neil Eardley then played the ball into the penalty area and Tyler Walker got in front of the hesitant Jon McLaughlin to get the final touch.

Perhaps it’s one for the dubious goals committee as some media outlets credited McLaughlin with an own goal.

Lincoln were rampant for the first half an hour and Sunderland somehow escaped conceding again before half-time, eventually breaking into Lincoln’s half and a superb save by Josh Vickers stopped Laurens de Bock’s curling effort from around 25 yards.

But Lincoln still posed a threat, Walker prodding goal-wards but team-mate Jack Payne inadvertently got in the way and shot was deflected wide, an escape for Sunderland who at least started the second half much brighter.

Right-back Conor McLaughlin headed narrowly wide from a Chris Maguire corner, but the Black Cats soon faded, Lincoln regained control and were soon awarded a penalty when De Bock tangled with threatening winger Bruno Andrade.

Walker’s kick hit the inside of the post and went out of play, a lifeline for Sunderland which they did not take and instead it was Appleton’s men looked like scoring the next goal.

They got it on 59 minutes, Andrade attacking up their right and delivering a cross that was guided home by Walker, and that was quite enough for some Sunderland fans,

From that moment a steady stream headed for the exit, their team was being outplayed by a side that had lost 6-0 at home to Oxford United two weeks back.

“Nobody wants to lose a game of football, especially in the manner we played today, we have to pick ourselves up and make sure we put it right," added Willis.

“We’re disappointed but we have to turn things around, make sure we don’t dwell on things and make sure we put it right.

“You have to make sure you address problems and try to put them right.”

As bas as it was, it is important to keep the 90 minutes in perspective: it was only a second defeat of the season, and only Ross’ tenth in 75 matches.

Furthermore, it was only last week Sunderland beat Sheffield United and MK Dons, they're in sixth position and remain firmly in the promotion race albeit eight points off the top.

It was the manner of this loss which makes it concerning, coming so soon after Bolton and while many supporters are questioning whether Ross should stay.

The only way to respond is to win the next meaningful match, which is not until Wycombe away after the international break.

Tomorrow evening’s game against Grimsby Town in the EFL Trophy, and Ross admitted: “Tuesday for me at the moment is an irrelevance simply because the competition pales into insignificance compared to what we need to be concentrating and focusing on this year.

“Right now my thoughts are dominated by the fact I’ve taken charge of a team that has produced that type of performance.”