This was Hull's 19th successive away league game without a win, 14 of them this season.
Gianfranco Zola was looking for a second consecutive victory to back up West Ham's win against Birmingham, and Phil Brown's men were, as always, most accommodating visitors. "Self-inflicted damage" was how the Hull manager, accurately, assessed a dire display.
Within two minutes Alessandro Diamanti and his sweet left foot had almost put the Hammers in front, from a free-kick that was well saved, but at once Zola's men scored anyway. Tom Cairney was stranded by a bad pass in midfield, Valon Behrami marched through and played a one-two with Guillermo Franco that the Mexican hadn't intended, and Behrami lashed a shot past Boaz Myhill.
Behrami, a Swiss international, should have had a hat-trick in 28 minutes but had to content himself with giving the Hammers the platform to control the match. Cutting in from the right flank, his second attempt on goal was a copy of his first, this time robbing Michael Dawson and firing in a shot that Myhill fisted away.
His efforts drew the manager's praise later when Zola, for all that his side are four points clear of the relegation zone, warned against any complacency: "It's too early to say we've turned the corner but in terms of confidence these results are big. Behrami's contribution was massive but this was a real team performance."
While Behrami had the early chances, Diamanti, playing on the left, also caught the eye with his passing and shooting, including one audacious attempt from halfway that Myhill turned around. Prior to that the Italian had picked out Behrami at the far post and Myhill had to react sharply.
George Boateng's shot from 18 yards, on half-time, should have galvanised the hosts but even after Craig Fagan collected his second yellow card, after 53 minutes, for a needless clip of Diamanti's heels, the Hammers were slow to apply more pressure.
Hull, who sit one place and one point off the relegation zone, were finally undone on the hour by a sublime pass from Julien Faubert behind the unfortunate Anthony Gardner, who was taken off on a stretcher just before the end with a possible broken leg. Carlton Cole let Faubert's pass run on before beating Myhill from close range.
The French full-back then got his first goal for the club in stoppage time when, from 18 yards, he gave Myhill no chance. Just like Hull's chances of avoiding relegation, it would seem.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Man of the match: Behrami