The goals arrived on 60 and 62 minutes, a smart header from Kevin Phillips and fine finish from Tore Andre Flo.
Few could argue that the home side deserved their win although it could have been a different story if Simon Davies had clipped our best chance of the game just inside the post, rather than a yard the other way, just before Sunderland opened the scoring.
As it was, little broke our way in the box and it was one of those days where the target proved hard to find.
The Black Cats created the better chances in the first half without really looking like breaking the deadlock.
Indeed, the closest they came was via Chris Perry's boot in the sixth minute as the defender miscued his clearance and Kasey Keller had to race back to first pat the ball down and then grab it on the line.
Gavin McCann almost scored a freak goal two minutes later, charging down a clearance that looked goalbound until it hit Flo.
With both sides struggling in the final third and a couple of efforts either end sailing wide, the next decent chance didn't arrive until almost 30 minutes later.
This time we managed to pierce Sunderland's solid back line as Phil Babb charged in and missed his tackle, Teddy Sheringham released Davies, he fed Robbie Keane whose cross was inches over Sheringham, just six yards out.
Phillips had the best chance of the half five minutes before the break. McCann robbed Sheringham and sent the hitman through on goal, he beat Keller but Perry was back in the nick of time to block the shot.
Our chance to go ahead came after 54 minutes. Sheringham superbly picked out Davies' run and the Welsh star dinked the ball over Macho but a yard wide.
Ten minutes later and we were 2-0 down. Phillips opened the scoring on the hour, heading home Gray's cross from eight yards and before we had time to regroup, Flo raced onto Phillips' flick over the top, held off Perry and fired across Keller into the far corner.
Glenn Hoddle changed the side around after that with Goran Bunjevcevic coming on for Poyet as we switched to three at the back.
We certainly played with more purpose and Carr had two half-chances, first prodding Anderton's cross wide and then blazing over when he might have done better from the edge of the area.
Territorially we bossed the final quarter but Sunderland always looked dangerous on the counter as the impressive Proctor and Kilbane fired wide before Phillips forced Keller into a smart save low down to his right.
Only one more chance followed and it just about summed up our afternoon. Passes were exchanged in and around the box until Sheringham set his sights at goal, his measured effort seemingly goalbound until it clipped off Craddock's heels.
MINUTE-BY-MINUTE GUIDE TO THE ACTION (press refresh for updates)
1min: First half-chance, Sheringham spread play to Poyet, left side of area, cut ball back to Keane who didn't really get hold of shot.
4mins: CHANCE. Flo turned Perry, eight yards out, left side of goal, but poked tamely wide.
6mins: SAVE. Perry miskicked forced Keller to back track quickly, clawed the ball down under the crossbar and clutched it on the line.
8mins: CLOSE. McCann charged down clearance, ball looked in all the way until it hit Flo two yards out.
18mins: Decent spell of possession ended with wild Freund shot wide.
19mins: Good set up play by Phillips to Flo who dragged shot wide from 20 yards.
22mins: Richards glanced Anderton corner two yards wide.
25mins: Poyet header from 15 yards floated wide.
32mins: Quick break as Sheringham released Davies, ball eventually fell to Anderton whose fierce shot was blocked bravely by Babb.
34mins: Keller our sharply to collect Proctor's teasing low cross.
36mins: CHANCE. Davies played in Keane, right side of area, cross was inches away from Sheringham.
40mins: OFF LINE. McCann closed down Sheringham, released Phillips through on goal, he went around Keller but Perry back to block on the line.
Half-time: Sunderland 0-0 Spurs
47mins: Anderton fired wide from 25 yards.
48mins: Richards great block to deny Flo from close range.
49mins: Proctor scooped shot over from edge of the box.
51mins: Flo cut inside Perry, right side of box, wasted position by driving shot wide.
54mins: CHANCE. Sheringham superbly picked out Davies' run behind McCartney, right side of area, he dinked ball over Macho but ball was always going wide.
60mins: GOAL. Gray's corner headed clear, ball played back to him, cross this time headed home by Phillips, eight yards out. 0-1.
62mins: GOAL. Phillips flicked ball over the top to Flo, he held off Perry and finished well, shooting low across Keller from tight angle. 0-2.
64mins: Macho good hands to hold onto Thatcher free-kick that took slight deflection.
65mins: SUB. Bunjevcevic for Poyet.
66mins: Good defending by Perry, getting in front of Flo to head dangerous McCann cross clear.
68mins: Anderton deep cross prodded wide by late-arriving Carr.
70mins: CHANCE. Good build up play, Sheringham shot charged down but ball fell to Carr, 18 yards out, blazed over.
73mins: Lively Proctor run and shot over from 20 yards.
74mins: SUB. Thirlwell for Proctor.
76mins: YELLOW. Perry for foul on Kilbane.
77mins: Kilbane fired just over from 20 yards.
78mins: SUB. Acimovic for Freund.
81mins: SAVE. Keller down sharply to his right to deny Phillips from 20 yards.
86mins: CHANCE. Sheringham shot looked good until deflecting off Craddock.
87mins: SUB. Kyle for Phillips.
89mins: SUB. Iversen for Thatcher.
90mins: YELLOW. Davies for foul on McCartney.
Line-ups: Sunderland: Macho, McCartney, Gray, Proctor (Thirlwell, 74), Craddock, Kilbane, Phillips (Kyle, 87), McCann, Babb, Flo, Wright. Subs: Ingham, Stewart, Bjorkland.
Spurs: Keller, Carr, Freund (Acimovic, 78), Perry, Anderton, Sheringham, Poyet (Bunjevcevic, 65), Thatcher (Iversen, 89), Keane, Davies, Richards. Subs: Hirschfeld, Doherty, Iversen.
The Stadium of Light quickly turned into the stadium of gloom as a two-goal blast in as many minutes secured the points for Sunderland in an otherwise sterile encounter.