Steve McClaren's Middlesbrough young guns bounced back from their Barclays Premiership mauling at Arsenal to shatter Nuneaton's hopes of an FA Cup giant-killing act 5-2.
Chris Riggott's 34th-minute opener set the ball rolling and Aiyegbeni Yakubu made it 2-0 from the penalty spot before the break.
But it was a devastating return of three goals inside 13 second-half minutes which turned a comprehensive victory into a rout as Stuart Parnaby - with his first senior goal for the club - Yakubu and Mark Viduka struck.
Gez Murphy capitalised on a mistake from Boro goalkeeper Brad Jones to head home with 19 minutes remaining and then added an 86th-minute penalty, but his efforts counting for nothing but pride as the Teessiders completed their first win in eight attempts in all competitions.
Boro were always likely to have too much class for their non-League opponents despite the absence of 12 senior players through injury and suspension, but McClaren will have been delighted at the way the four teenagers he included in his starting line-up recovered from their mauling at Highbury.
It was a game he knew his side simply could not afford to lose against a team sitting some 100 places below his in the football pyramid.
And for 25 distinctly uncomfortable minutes, a shock remained a possibility as Nuneaton, making their 10th appearance in this season's competition, gave as good as they got.
Had striker Murphy, the man whose last-minute penalty earned them their trip to the Riverside Stadium, been as composed as he was 10 days ago, they would had been in front with just four minutes gone.
He could scarcely believe it when he turned to find himself with just Jones to beat, but the Australian made a fine save low to his right.
The 5,000 or so travelling supporters who had made the journey to the north-east were thoroughly enjoying their evening as Boro struggled to impose themselves against a team of part-timers.
However, as strikers Yakubu and Viduka started to stretch the visitors' defence, the signs were ominous, and the breakthrough finally arrived 11 minutes before the break, if from an unexpected source.
Riggott, having gone forward for Gaizka Mendieta's corner, remained in the danger area the ball was lifted back in, and he coolly scooped it over the advancing Darren Acton to claim his first goal of the season.
Nuneaton were visibly stunned, and their woes deepened eight minutes later when, after Yakubu had broken from halfway and fed Mendieta, the Spaniard went down under Stuart Whittaker's innocuous challenge inside the box and referee Mike Riley pointed to the spot.
Yakubu stepped up to stroke home his 13th of the campaign as Acton went the wrong way and the tie was effectively over.
It was definitely over within five minutes of the restart when, with Mendieta having already fired into the side-netting, Parnaby weighed in with his first senior goal for the club.
The same man was just off target with an even more spectacular strike two minutes later and Nuneaton were fighting for little more than pride.
Midfielder Mark Noon and defender Neil Moore went close for the visitors within seconds as they rallied briefly, but 3-0 became 4-0 with 58 minutes gone when Yakubu muscled his way into the clear and rolled a left-foot shot past Acton.
The former Portsmouth front man was instrumental in his side's fifth as his presence caused panic in the Nuneaton penalty area and Viduka took full advantage to add his name to the scoresheet.
Jones was left red-faced on 71 minutes when he came for opposite number Acton's clearance and missed it to present Murphy with an open goal.
The striker was to leave the Riverside with a double to his name after he was tripped by substitute Ray Parlour and beat the keeper from the spot once again with four minutes remaining.
Middlesbrough boss Steve McClaren praised the united front presented by his
club's players and fans as his side bounced back from their Barclays Premiership
humiliation to dump non-league Nuneaton out of the FA Cup.
Boro, hammered 7-0 at Arsenal at the weekend, blasted five past Roger Ashby's
side to put the tie beyond doubt with almost half an hour left to play.
And although a Gez Murphy double gave the 5,000 or so travelling fans
something to cheer, McClaren was able to herald the beginning of what he hopes
is a fightback.
'It's job done and a small step towards our recovery,' he said. 'There's
still a long way to go, still a lot of work to be done, but I'm pleased with the
reaction from the players because this was never going to be an easy game, and
that's how it proved to be in the first 20 minutes.
'I was very pleased with the response of the players and very pleased with
the response of the crowd. We got together as a football club tonight, and
that's what we need to do in times like this.
'It was important to win, but what was also important was the response of the
players and the response of the crowd, and I was pleased on both accounts.
'We need more of that against Wigan on Saturday.'
It all might have been so different had keeper Brad Jones, again deputising
for the transfer-listed Mark Schwarzer, not pulled off a fine one-handed save to
deny Murphy on four minutes as the Conference North side opened confidently.
'They are defining moments in games,' admitted McClaren. 'He (Jones) did it
down at their place and he did it again in what was a difficult opening period
'You could see the team was nervous, apprehensive. What got them through was
the crowd and their attitude. Once we got the first goal, we settled down and it
was five but it could have been more.'
Chris Riggott's first goal of the season put the Premiership side ahead 11
minutes before the break and Aiyegbeni Yakubu converted a penalty eight minutes
later to leave Nuneaton facing an uphill task.
But it was a 13-minute salvo in which Stuart Parnaby, Yakubu and Mark Viduka
scored after half-time which killed the tie off before Murphy's late
Ashby's side have made around £200,000 from their cup run - this was their
10th game in the competition this season - and that will help finance their
planned move from their Manor Park home.
However, it was what happened on the pitch which pleased the manager most.
'The two goals made it outstanding for us because at 5-0, with half an hour
to go, I was getting a bit concerned,' he said. 'You wonder what the score is
going to be, but all credit to my players, they didn't drop their heads.
'It was a great night for both clubs. Obviously, Middlesbrough were looking
for a victory tonight. They have been having a bad run and it was a very, very
important game for them.
'From our point of view, we wanted to come here and do ourselves justice.
When you get a second bite of the cherry against a Premiership side, you don't
come out successful too often, and that's what happened tonight.
'But I'm really proud of all the lads because they didn't die out there. They
kept going, and I was really pleased about that.
'At the end, you would think we had won the game. We brought nearly 5,000
fans here this evening and they supported us from the first minute until right
to the end of the game and afterwards, it was like a carnival.'