It was a tale of two halves as Middlesbrough cruised through to the fourth round of the FA Cup with a resounding 5-0 win over Peterborough.
Tony Pulis’ side registered just two efforts on target in a forgettable first half, as both sides cancelled each other out at the Riverside.
But, after 15 minutes to take stock, the hosts showed the gulf in quality between themselves and their League One opponents, with Britt Assombalonga scoring twice, either side of goals from George Friend and Lewis Wing.
Ashley Fletcher then added a fifth for the hosts, after stabbing home Paddy McNair’s dinked cross three minutes from time.
It is the first time Boro have scored four goals or more under Tony Pulis, while the Teessiders are the lowest scorers in the top half of the Championship.
But judging by the manager's team team selection, the plan was always to attack from the off.
In came Assombalonga, Fletcher and Rudy Gestede up front as Pulis made three changes to the side which draw 1-1 at Derby on New Year’s Day.
Behind them Paddy McNair started alongside Grant Leadbitter in midfielder, with Marcus Tavernier and new signing Rajiv van La Parra operating as wing-backs.
But despite Boro's attacking intentions, Peterborough goalkeeper Conor O’Malley was rarely tested in the first half.
After McNair volleyed wide in the sixth minute, defender George Friend registered Boro’s first effort on target, miscuing a shot from Assombalonga’s corner which was comfortably saved by the keeper.
At the other end Boro goalkeeper Dimi Konstantopulos was having an even quieter afternoon but should have been called into action before the break.
On 24 minutes Posh striker Siriki Dembele scuffed a low shot inches wide, however the visitor’s best chance came 10 minutes later.
Joe Ward picked out Peterborough’s top scorer Ivan Toney inside the area but, after beating Friend with ease, the 22-year-old striker fired over with just the keeper to beat.
The visitors were made to pay for that miss shortly after the half-time interval as Boro struck twice in quick succession.
Lewis Wing replaced van La Parra at the break and it was the former who played a big part in Boro’s opener. The midfielder’s close-range strike was tipped onto the crossbar by O’Malley before Assombalonga nodded home the rebound to open the scoring.
One quickly became two when Fletcher showed more desire than Ward on the left-hand side of the penalty area. The striker then calmed squared the ball to Friend, who made no mistake from a few yards out.
The hosts looked comfortable after that and added an impressive third when Wing smashed the ball past O’Malley from outside the penalty area.
Boro played with more freedom as the match went on and, with their confidence growing and gaps appearing, Pulis’ men added a lovely fourth.
In the 70th minute, Wing’s pass to Gestede was flicked into the path of Assombalonga first-time and the latter calmly slotted past O’Malley.
Fletcher added a fifth three minutes from the end when McNair picked out the striker to complete the scoring.
Middlesbrough XI: Konstantopulos, Friend, Ayala, Fry, McNair, Leadbitter, Tavernier (Champman, 74), van La Parra (Wing, 45), Fletcher, Assombalonga, Gestede (Walker, 74).
Subs: Lonergan, Wood, Clayton, Spence.
Peterborough XI: O’Malley, Naismith, Tafazolli, White, Ward, Reed (Cooke, 74), O’Hara (Godden, 58), Woodyard, Lafferty, Dembele (Cummings, 80), Toney.
Subs: Chapman, Bennett, Cooper, Denton.