Championship leaders Ross County suffered their heaviest defeat of the campaign as Queen of the South stormed into the play-off positions with an accomplished display.
The visitors’ misery was compounded when Josh Mullin was red carded.
Queens manager Gary Naysmith, in charge of his 100th game with the club, said: “I couldn’t have marked it any better but it’s all down to the players, they were excellent today and we are on a decent run of form now.
“There is a real togetherness in the group at the moment but I’m reluctant to heap too much praise on them because just when you think you’re on to a good thing in football it has a habit of turning the other way.”
As has often been the case during Naysmith’s tenure, it was the talismanic Stephen Dobbie who inspired Queens.
The 36-year-old looked in the mood from the first whistle and there was a sense of inevitability when he opened the scoring.
New signing Nicky Low, making his home debut after leaving Derry City, was the architect with a defence-splitting pass through to Dobbie, who composed himself before calmly stroking a side-footed effort beyond Scott Fox into the bottom corner for his 17th league goal this season.
It was a little harsh on County who had made the early running and spurned two great chances during a breathtaking opening ten minutes. Both sides threw caution to the wind during an entertaining first period and referee Steven Reid ignored some questionable tackles to allow the game to flow.
Queens, though, were the more clinical and they doubled their advantage through Michael Doyle. Deployed on the right wing, the former Morton defender looked a natural when he collected Dobbie’s through ball in his stride and confidently fired home.
The second half quickly turned into a nightmare for the visitors as a second consecutive away defeat beckoned.
Michael Gardyne squandered a chance to throw the Staggies a lifeline just after the interval when he smashed a powerful effort off the bar.
And the Doonhamers made County pay, virtually sealing victory on 65 minutes when the impressive Barry Maguire scored the decisive third on his home debut.
Scott Mercer’s corner was knocked back across goal by Callum Fordyce and the on-loan Motherwell defender pounced.
The Dingwall team’s day took another turn for the worse just minutes later when Mullin was shown a straight red card for a recklessly high tackle on Maguire.
The leaders’ misery was complete when Dobbie pounced on an error by Ross Draper to fire his second of the afternoon.
County co-manager Steven Ferguson said: “It wasn’t good enough and we need to find a way to make it better.
“As a group of players and staff we have to look at ourselves. Sometimes you need to stand up and recognise that you deserve to be beat.”