Sunderland boss Steve Bruce was delighted with his players as they went some way to making amends for their derby drubbing by seeing off Stoke.
Record signing Asamoah Gyan's double clinched a 2-0 win over the Potters, who had defender Ryan Shawcross sent off late in the second half, although the Black Cats missed a penalty and survived concerted appeals for a spot-kick with the score at 1-0.
The three points moved the Wearsiders back into seventh place in the Barclays Premier League, six days after their 5-1 defeat at Newcastle, and Bruce said: "It's been a tough week and the one thing I am pleased about is the young players. They were all determined, and they were maybe trying too hard in the first half, to try to make amends if they could."
He added: "In some eyes we have repaired some damage, in some eyes we won't repair it at all.
"But thankfully we showed a bit of bottle, we kept a clean sheet and showed what we are made of a little bit in a really difficult week."
It took Ballon d'Or nominee Gyan just nine minutes of his first league start to make his mark, side-footing into an empty net after goalkeeper Asmir Begovic had parried Nedum Onuoha's shot.
Sunderland should have extended their lead on 28 minutes when they were awarded a penalty for Jon Walters' tug on Gyan's shirt. However, with leading scorer and penalty taker Darren Bent missing with a hamstring injury, Steed Malbranque saw his spot-kick saved by Begovic.
Stoke gradually fought their way back into the game and were denied the chance to equalise with 19 minutes remaining after Lee Cattermole somehow kept out former team-mate Kenwyne Jones' header on the line. Replays suggested he had done so with his arm, with some visiting players appealing for the penalty and others claiming the ball had crossed the line, although both claims were waved away by referee Martin Atkinson.
Their woes deepened when Shawcross was sent off for two bookable offences, the first a dreadful challenge on Danny Welbeck, and Gyan blasted home a second four minutes later.
Bruce said: "Thankfully the new striker showed what a class act he is today, I thought he was terrific. He gave us a spark and lift which we needed."