Birmingham - Aston Villa were pushed closer to the relegation trapdoor on Tuesday as the Premier League's bottom club slumped to a miserable 3-1 defeat against Everton.
Remi Garde's troubled side were crushed by goals from Ramiro Funes Mori, Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku as they surrendered in front of their furious fans at Villa Park.
Villa's fourth defeat in their last five league matches was played out against the dispiriting backdrop of a 74th minute walkout from supporters in protest at their club's humiliating decline.
Villa last played in the second tier in 1988 but they remain eight points from safety and with games against Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea still to come this month, their fate could effectively be sealed before Easter.
Everton's victory - their fifth in their last six games in all competitions - was the ideal way to welcome Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri, whose muti-million pound arrival as majority shareholder over the weekend has raised hopes of an exciting new chapter in the club's history.
Villa's last home game had ended in their worst defeat at Villa Park for 81 years as Liverpool romped to a 6-0 victory that prompted Garde to question his players' commitment.
There was little reason for Garde to rethink that criticism after another lacklustre display against a team from Merseyside.
Villa's problems began in the fifth minute when Everton capitalised on woeful defending to take the lead.
An Everton corner should have been dealt with easily by the Villa rear-guard, but they made a hash of it and Funes Mori was left completely unmarked to smash home from close-range.
Villa fans have grown increasingly mutinous in recent weeks as they see relegation looming large at the end of a dismal campaign and they had held up banners calling for the board to sell up before kick-off.
Funes Mori's goal did little to improve their mood and jeers and abuse was cascading down from the stands towards Garde and his team.
Villa briefly sparked into life when Everton goalkeeper Joel Robles made saves to deny Gabriel Agbonlahor and Ashley Westwood.
Micah Richards fired narrowly wide moments later and Leandro Bacuna saw his effort kept out by Robles, but Villa's pressure proved a false dawn and Everton doubled their lead in the 30th minute.
Ruthlessly exposing Villa's fragile defence, the visitors broke with speed and purpose as Ross Barkley released Kevin Mirallas and the Belgian teed up former Tottenham winger Lennon to finish from close range for his fourth goal in his last six appearances.
Villa were in complete turmoil and Brad Guzan couldn't hold a Mirallas shot, with Bryan Oviedo's follow-up cleared off the line by Richards.
When Villa won a rare corner, ironic cheers rang out from the disillusioned fans.
But by the 60th minute the stands were more than half empty as Villa fans streamed to the exits following Everton's third goal.
Funes Mori was allowed to cross far too easily and Belgium striker Lukaku stuck out his leg to divert it past Guzan for his 22nd of the season.
In a fitting coda to the evening, more of Villa's fans departed in protest with 16 minutes left, so when Rudy Gestede got one back with a 79th minute header, there was hardly anyone left to see it.