It was an afternoon when fortune and finishing were the key differences as Rovers slipped to a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
With nine players absent through injury and suspension it was always going to be an uphill task, and that grew into a mountain to climb after Rovers were undone with two goals in the first twenty minutes.
The first on 11 was fortunate when Danny Welbeck's shot took a huge deflection, Darren Bent's header eight minutes later wasn't, creeping into the corner of net after he got the better of Grant Hanley in the air.
Steve Kean's side should have reduced arrears but for El-Hadji Diouf's alarming miss. The Senegal forward side-footing Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick horribly over the bar with just Craig Gordon to beat.
Rovers were bright in the opening exchanges of the second half, Mame Biram Diouf headed wide, whilst David Dunn fired narrowly over.
But Darren Bent should have made it three when he somehow fired wide in front of goal, before Jordan Henderson's dipping effort bounced off the top of the crossbar.
With Rovers pressing for a way back into the game they were inevitably hit on the break, Jordan Henderson teeing up substitute Asamoah Gyan to finish emphatically on 89 minutes to complete a miserable day in the North East.
Ahead of the New Years Day clash both sides made four changes.
Rovers' were all enforced, Paul Robinson out with a calf injury meaning a first Premier League start in goal for Mark Bunn. Michel Salgado's suspension meant a return to defence for Gael Givet, whilst David Hoilett was back in the starting line-up due to Niko Kalinic's suspension.
Chris Samba didn't make the trip to the Stadium of Light, the defender still troubled with the ankle injury, meaning Rovers were without nine first team players.
For the home side, Nedum Onuoha and Lee Cattermole missed out through injuries whilst Asamoah Gyan dropped to the bench. Steed Malbranque, Titus Bramble and Kieran Richardson starting.
The match started in lively fashion with both sides looking to get the ball down and pass.
Junior Hoilett impressed early some crunching tackles to go with a mazy run, but it was the home side who took the lead after just eleven minutes, albeit in fortunate fashion.
A cross from the right by Elmohamady was cleared initially by Ryan Nelsen but it was only as far as Danny Welbeck, he struck the ball on the half volley goalwards only for it to strike the Rovers captain and deflect past the unfortunate Mark Bunn into the opposite corner.
Rovers continued to press and probe, Hoilett almost threading the ball through to MB Diouf but Ferdinand intercepts with an outstretched boot. Dunn seeing an effort block after yet more good work from the young Canadian.
But from Sunderland's second meaningful attack they doubled their lead. Again it was from an Ahmed Elmohamady centre, this time Darren Bent gots the better of Grant Hanley as he rose with the young defender to glance the ball into the far corner of the goals.
2-0 down after just twenty minutes, a shellshocked Rovers looked to hit back straight away, but Mame Biram Diouf headed over Morten Gamst Pedersen's free-kick.
With their tails up Sunderland continued to press, Martin Olsson and Gael Givet heading away as the hosts threatened from a corner, whilst Ryan Nelsen just got the better of Darren Bent to head back to Bunn under pressure.
Then as Morten Gamst Pedersen lost the ball in midfield, Sunderland broke five on four, but Bent thankfully headed over.
David Dunn was looking lively for the visitors, and it was from a foul on the midfielder that Rovers should have pulled a goal back. Again it was Pedersen the provider, his free-kick was whipped in at the back post, but El-hadji Diouf side-footed high over the bar with just Craig Gordon to beat. It was a glorious chance for the former Sunderland man, you could tell it was going to be one of those days.
Danny Welbeck's deft chip excited the home fans, but Bunn watched it over the crossbar.
Rovers were then reduced to ten men for a spell after Grant Hanley fell heavily when going up for a ball, thankfully after treatment the young Scot was able to return to action. David Dunn continued to impress, after taking the ball down well and beating his man he was unfortunate to see his 20-yard effort swerve away from goal.
Kieran Richardson was lucky to escape a card for a late challenge as El-Hadji Diouf cleared the ball. The Rovers man remonstrating with referee Mike Dean as the teams came off at half-time.
The start of the second half saw Rovers make a switch. Grant Hanley had fallen awkwardly towards the end of the first forty-five, and although he played on after treatment, he didn't reappear after the break. Benjani, Rovers' most experienced substitute on to replace, with Brett Emerton switching to right back.
Benjani looked bright after his introduction, but it was his strike partner Mame Biram Diouf who had the first chance of the second half. Name sake El-Hadji crossing from the right, but Mame, who netted in the win over West Bromwich Albion, put his header wide of goal.
Benjani then teed up David Dunn but he drilled a first time effort narrowly over the bar, then Hoilett curled a left-footed strike wide of goal after another forceful foray.
But at the other end Darren Bent really should have made it three to the home side. Somehow he put Richardson's centre wide of goal when it seemed easier to score. He then fired over after Givet had failed to connect with a clearance.
Then from a Pedersen centre into the box chaos ensued, but the ball just wouldn't drop kindly for Mame Diouf to strike. Symptomatic of the way the day had gone.
Josh Morris was brought on for his third senior appearance with Hoilett making way, but not before the home side had rattled the crossbar. Jordan Henderson the unfortunate one as his dipping shot bounced off the woodwork.
Rovers' final change saw the hardworking David Dunn replaced with five minutes to go by Herold Goulon.
With little over a minute on the clock remaining, Sunderland added a third. A Morten Gamst Pedersen free-kick was cleared, and with Rovers caught out at the back Henderson breaking to find Asamoah Gyan who hit a superb shot into the far corner of the goal to complete the victory for the home side.
SUNDERLAND: Gordon, Bardsley, Richardson, Malbranque, Henderson, Bent (sub Gyan 81 mins), Welbeck (sub Zenden 69 mins), Meyler, Bramble (c), Elmohamady (sub Angeleri 86 mins), Ferdinand.
Subs not used: Mignolet (GK), Da Silva, Riveros, Cook.
ROVERS: Bunn, Hanley (sub Benjani 46 mins), Nelsen (c), Givet, Olsson, Hoilett (sub Morris 78 mins), Emerton, Dunn (sub Goulon 86 mins), Pedersen, EH Diouf, MB Diouf.
Subs not used: Fielding (GK), Linganzi, Doran, Lowe.
Booked: Ferdinand (Sunderland), Dunn, Mame Biram Diouf (Rovers).