Melbourne Victory produced their finest performance of the young A-League season, cutting 10-man Wellington Phoenix down to size in a 6-1 thrashing at Etihad Stadium.
The Phoenix, who scored their first goal of the season in the heavy loss, remain winless after four games and firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.
Besart Berisha finished with a hat-trick and All White and former Phoenix player Marco Rojas earned a double as Dylan Fox's dismissal after the break opened the floodgates for the home side.
Berisha twice delivered his punishment from the penalty spot after sloppy Wellington defending, while Rojas surged onto loose balls to finish past Glen Moss.
The pair combined for an 82nd minute effort that secured Berisha's hat-trick, and Mitch Austin cemented Wellington's embarrassment in injury time in front of 20,113 at Etihad Stadium.
The all-action affair delivered on Victory coach Kevin Muscat's promise of an attacking feast, with plenty of bumps on the way.
Full-backs Daniel Georgievski and Jason Geria powered Victory, the former involved in the two first-half penalties.
On 20 minutes, the Macedonian international flew into the box and was clumsily brought down by Roly Bonevacia as he collected Oliver Bozanic's nifty pass.
Two minutes later Georgievski turned provider for Berisha.
Dylan Fox's attempt to muscle out the Albanian went awry, with his leg sticking inside Berisha's stride like a rod in between the spokes of a bicycle wheel.
On both occasions, Victory's striker strode confidently to the penalty spot, shooting to Moss' right.
Three points looked assured when Fox was served his second yellow card on 59 minutes for halting Berisha's run on goal.
But the Phoenix were awarded a penalty of their own when Alan Baro brought down Roy Krishna who duly converted.
Their threat lasted just nine minutes, when Rojas timed his run into the box perfectly to gather Berisha's ball and lash home.
The winger was gifted his second, with Jacob Tratt's poor clearance allowing him to sidefoot into an unguarded net on 77 minutes.
After Berisha scored his 85th A-League goal - bringing him within five of Archie Thompson's all-time record - Austin took his turn to get on the scoresheet after more good work from Rojas.
The result deepens Wellington's season of woe, with Merrick's men stranded on the foot of standings after four games without a point.
Victory jumped to third place, wiping out their negative goal differential suffered in round two's Melbourne derby on the way.
Coach Kevin Muscat, who recorded his best win as a coach, said he was disappointed when the Phoenix battled back into the contest but happy with the final result.
"It could have been a few more ... we'll take some confidence from that," he said.
Muscat said Georgievski would be taken for scans after going off clutching his shoulder.
Merrick, who lost key defender Marco Rossi before the first whistle with a thigh injury, said he couldn't take anything from the performance.
"We tried to play good football right to the end but we made a series of errors," he said.