There was relief for Home United on Thursday night at Yishun Stadium after they saw off Hougang United 4-0 in the Great Eastern Yeo's S.League.
The beleaguered uniformed giants had picked up only one point from their last four matches and were languishing in seventh place before this game -- far from ideal form for a supposed title contender.
The Protectors had not scored for 393 minutes prior to this game, but that came to an end when Ambroise Begue broke the deadlock on 22 minutes on a cut-up pitch.
The visiting Cheetahs were undone by a quick one-two as a deft return ball from Yasir Hanapi allowed Begue to continue his run into the box, before the Frenchman smashed it home for his first goal of the season.
Philippe Aw's charges doubled their lead just four minutes later through Kamel Ramdani. Sent clear by Azhar Sairudin's pass, the French-Algerian lashed an unerring finish into the far bottom right corner.
Hougang, the only team yet to win a game in the current campaign, looked bereft of confidence and fell further behind on 32 minutes.
A low cross from the right by man-of-the-match Begue was diverted past his own goalkeeper by centre-back Yuki Uchiyama, making his first appearance in two months after returning from injury.
At the other end, goalkeeper Hyrulnizam Juma'at was hardly troubled apart from a Muhaymin Salim header that went over early on and a free-kick from Fairoz Hasan that was smothered easily.
Striker Francisco Ela, brought on at the start of the second half in an attempt to turn things around, nearly made an instant impact when his cross was glanced narrowly over by Manato Takahashi on 52 minutes.
But the hosts asserted their superiority with another well-worked goal just before the hour mark. Racing down the left, Sirina Camara picked out Azhar at the far post with a precise cross that was darted in, leaving the keeper with no chance.
Takahashi had the opportunity to reduce arrears in the 66th minute, but was denied by a fine block from Hyrulnizam after he pulled the trigger from a tight angle.
With the job done, Home professionally closed out the game to take their first victory in five games and climb to fourth, while Hougang dropped to the bottom of the table on goal difference.
Speaking after the game, Aw said that he had not expected a four-goal winning margin and suggested that the absence of Hougang's regular centre-back Kunihiro Yamashita was a factor.
"Every game is a tough game and in a way, I'm glad things worked out [tonight]," he pointed out. "To be fair, Hougang missed Kuni today; this is the first time they partnered Kenneth [Chang] with Yuki [Uchiyama] and the chemistry was [perhaps] not there."
Aw went on to note that there was still "plenty to improve on" for his team, with the club's emphasis on youth this season meaning that they have missed the leadership of injured stalwarts Ken Ilso Larsen and Noh Rahman.
"We knew it wasn't going to be an easy start [to the season]," he said. "We are not a seasoned team... [and] to lose two influential players, we had to cope with it.
"I cannot be afraid to blood youngsters... We won't put too much pressure on these young boys [though]; this year is for them to feel what it's like in the S.League and stabilise themselves."
Unsurprisingly, his counterpart Salim Moin was "disappointed" in their first-half collapse, though he was more satisfied with the performance after the break.
"The character and attitude of the team was not good," he said. "The next game will be a different game [though]; in the second half, the boys showed they were full of desire and fighting spirit.
"The team's morale is still okay - as long as I'm still smiling, the team is okay."
Home United: Hyrulnizam Juma'at, R. Aaravin, Abdil Qaiyyim, Redzwan Atan, Juma'at Jantan (C) (Ang Zhiwei 62'), Yasir Hanapi, Song Ui-young, Sirina Camara, Azhar Sairudin (Nur Hizami Salim 69'), Ambroise Begue (Sufianto Salleh 74'), Kamel Ramdani
Hougang United: Ridhuan Barudin, Faiz Salleh (Ruzaini Zainal 64'), Kenneth Chang, Yuki Uchiyama (Fairoz Hasan 35'), Lau Meng Meng, Manato Takahashi, Shunsuke Nakatake, Renshi Yamaguchi, Fareez Farhan (Francisco Ela 46'), Nurhilmi Jasni (C), Muhaymin Salim