Hughes reign takes shape as Spurs suffer
Harry Redknapp described his low-slung vantage point at Craven Cottage as "the worst viewing position I have ever been in my life." On this day it was a blessing in disguise.
The less Redknapp saw of Tottenham being taken to the cleaners by Fulham on the banks of the Thames the better - from first to last this was an eyesore of a performance.
If Fulham's impressive passage into the FA Cup fifth round marked the high point of Mark Hughes' fledgling tenure as manager, it was a rare low in Redknapp's reign at Spurs.
Fulham's 4-0 victory margin, with all goals scored in a spectacular first 45 minutes, was an understatement of their superiority and almost constituted a light escape for dismal Spurs.
Dembele scores Fulham's fourth as Spurs go 4-0 down before half-time
I have watched Spurs impress so often this season that even 90 minutes as harrowing as this should not dampen the optimism and hope Redknapp has restored to White Hart Lane.
But as the final day of the transfer window approached he was willing to express his concerns about threadbare defensive resources and players "running on empty" as he contemplates the future challenges of the Premier League and Champions League.
He admitted: "We've had a tough, tough season and we could do with freshening up one or two but we haven't got the people to do it."
Indeed, the more mischievous among us might even suggest the evidence that unfolded at Craven Cottage might just give Redknapp the added leverage he needs to apply some extra persuasion to Spurs chairman Daniel Levy before the window closes at 2300 GMT on Monday.
It would now be no great surprise if Spurs made their trademark contribution to the last dash for reinforcements this season as they were linked with a variety of names from Andy Carroll to Scott Parker and Sergio Aguero, not forgetting Everton's Phil Neville.
This was a meltdown made from many factors, not least the vibrant pace and power of a Fulham side which has manager Hughes believing the adjustments he made to Roy Hodgson's formula are coming to fruition, more of which later.
Add an utterly catastrophic Spurs defensive showing, a lightweight midfield overloaded with natural talent in Luka Modric, Steven Pienaar and Aaron Lennon but devoid of physical presence and all the ingredients were in place to have Fulham's ecstatic fans suspending belief as they were four goals up at half-time.
Michael Dawson, normally so reliable, had a 14-minute nightmare. He played a part in the move that led to Alan Hutton's needless foul on Clint Dempsey, allowing Danny Murphy to score from the spot.
He then tugged obviously and desperately at Mousa Dembele after conceding possession in the area, earning a red card in the process and allowing Murphy to once again demonstrate his penalty expertise.
Fulham's further goals from Brede Hangeland and the outstanding Dembele decorated a display that delighted Hughes and will have increased his stock among any supporters still sceptical about his ability to replicate Hodgson's fine work.
It was only on Boxing Day that Hughes felt the fury of Fulham's fans when they lost at home to West Ham United, creating pressure and speculation about his future less than six months after his arrival.
Since then the signs of progress have been obvious and Craven Cottage could not contain its delight as Spurs were ripped apart on a regular basis by Fulham's pace, power and range of attacking options.
With Murphy calmly controlling affairs from midfield and Fulham effectively allowed free reign to probe the soft underbelly of Spurs' defence, the game was up within 15 minutes.
Hughes' hand has been strengthened, as he insisted it would be, by the return to fitness and form of Andrew Johnson. The former England striker, industrious as ever, ran Spurs into submission.
He had a willing assistant in the powerful Dembele, also making his way back from injury but still possessing enough to suggest Hughes did a shrewd piece of business when he paid AZ Alkmaar £5m for his services.
Hughes cited mitigating circumstances surrounding his slow start and the forthcoming return of Bobby Zamora will add more potency to a Fulham side that is solid at the back and creative in midfield.
And Fulham have no worries about their manager's hunger for the fight, wounded as he was by his unceremonious bundling out of Manchester City.
Hughes is winning growing acceptance at Craven Cottage and a victory of this stature will spread confidence. For Redknapp, it was a game when even his obstructed view could not blind him to his side's failings - but hardly a day for panic in a season with so much promise ahead.