A hat-trick from Peter Crouch, one each from Jermain Defoe and Robbie Keane and some magnificent goalkeeping from Heurelho Gomes saw to it that we advanced to round four of the Carling Cup at Preston North End on Wednesday night.
The Championship side were defeated by a comfortable looking 5-1 margin, but it was not a routine exercise and Gomes was one of the stars of the night on his return to the side following his recovery from the groin injury sustained at Hull City in our second game of the season.
There was an early alert when a clearance from Gomes did not travel the required distance and Jon Parkin was able to take aim with the goalkeeper out of position - thankfully aiming wide.
Gomes was one of seven changes made to the starting line-up that took to the field at Chelsea on Sunday - with Gareth Bale and Michael Dawson making their first appearances of the season. A little rustiness was probably inevitable in the opening minutes after a period of matchday inactivity.
Giovani did not look too rusty when he span in the area and crashed a shot against the bar from a tight angle on five minutes, with Gomes reminding everyone of his quality just moments later.
A cross from the right by Michael Hart was headed down and heading in from Billy Jones, before the Brazilian stretched and tipped the ball away from its top corner destination.
The deadlock was broken in the 14th minute when a superbly measured cross from Bale was met on the volley by Crouch, who dispatched via the inside of the goalkeeper's left-hand upright.
Sadly, Giovani was forced to leave the pitch and was replaced by Aaron Lennon in the 17th minute - his appearance cut short by a hefty challenge from Ross Wallace that resulted in the little playmaker needing lengthy treatment. He attempted to play on but his stride pattern indicated that it was only a matter of time before a change was made.
Gomes made another great save from a Parkin blast as Preston came back into contention before a teasing cross from Wallace resulted in Jones firing wide.
In the 37 minute the advantage was doubled when captain Jermaine Jenas played through to Defoe, who smashed in a shot that keeper Andy Lonergan did well to foil but the ball was in the air and the little striker reacted first and nodded into the net.
Defoe then blasted narrowly wide following a David Bentley centre and Crouch lay-off, while at the other end Gomes saved well from a Parkin header, the striker again being denied by the athletic Gomes in stoppage time when a Tom Huddlestone clearance was crashed back goalwards.
Preston began the second half with a sense of urgency, but it was Lonergan who was called on to make the first significant save of the half when he dived left to fingertip a Huddlestone shot around the post - Lennon then stung his palms after cutting in from the right.
Gomes made another stunning save from a Wallace free-kick on the edge of the area with 20 minutes left on the clock. Robbie Keane was introduced soon after in place of Defoe - and Gomes foiled another Wallace effort.
Crouch had a chance of adding his second on the run but fired high, but did reach his double in the 77th minute. Wilson Palacios cleverly picked out the run of Lennon, who sped and squared into the path of the Crouch at the far post - the ball was calmly slotted home.
The home side netted a consolation through substitute Chris Brown with six minutes remaining, Dawson having already completed his night's work with Vedran Corluka taking over central defensive duties.
The other on central defensive duty, Huddlestone, surged forward on 87 minutes and slipped through to Keane, who clipped past Lonergan and into the bottom corner to make it four.
The final word went to Crouch - Lennon fizzed a low cross in his general direction and the big striker somehow backheeled into the corner of the net from around ten yards out!
A good night for the strikers!