But it is hopeless situation as the North-East trio finally hit form to rise above the rabble.
The Mags, Mackems and Smogs all won, and leave Fulham and Derby looking at Championship football next season.
Just as Fulham chairman Al-Fayed refuses to believe the reality of Princess Diana's death, his manager is equally delusional.
Roy Hodgson (Fulham boss): "We were two points behind Bolton and we are now three points; Birmingham, who were four points ahead of us at the start of the day are still four points ahead.
"We have got seven games to play. But it was a significant move for Sunderland with their excellent win at Aston Villa, so we have lost touch with them.
"But having said that, seven matches, a lot of things can happen. We have got to keep believing that our football can get us out of this situation and we have got to hope that the things that didn't go right for us today, we can put right."