The Brazilian was the only City player to emerge with any credit from a match which could have damaging repercussions on the club's title aspirations.
After the equally inimical weekend defeat to Liverpool, parity appeared restored when City took the lead after just two minutes, handed to them by Brazilian Fernandinho but Sunderland hit back and deserved their equaliser, which Connor Wickham tapped home with 10 minutes left.
Wickham then stunned the Etihad Stadium into silence with his second before Samir Nasri's late goal ensured a share of the spoils that did neither Manuel Pellegrini nor Gus Poyet many favours.
After watching Manchester City in action, we rate their performance player by player:
Joe Hart 6
The England international was generally in command of his penalty area for the majority of the contest and made a solid, if unspectacular, save to initially preserve his side's lead when he came out to meet Jack Colback and divert the Sunderland midfielder's effort away.
Conversely, Hart will not be happy with his role in Wickham's second goal in particular. Hapless with the Black Cats striker's first, the City goalkeeper was slow to get down to his near-post strike, which should not have been allowed to find the corner.
Pablo Zabaleta 5
The Argentine struggled to contain a rampant Raheem Sterling on Sunday and, while he has been the bastion of consistency for City in recent years, his current run of form has offered cause for concern.
Caught out of position time and time again, it wasn't until Poyet introduced Emanuele Giaccherini that Sunderland found the right formula in the attacking third. The Italian set up both goals, having drifted too easily past Zabaleta to tee up Wickham's brace.
Vincent Kompany 6
Looked to relish the tussle with Wickham in the early stages but often played like a man who had made a costly blunder just a few days earlier.
His dominance slowly turned into a weariness that permeated throughout the team, as the captain's performances so often seem to do in a City shirt.
Martin Demichelis 6
Had hardly put a foot wrong, but appeared to be particularly culpable for both of Wickham's goals, as the striker's elusive movement saw him gain a yard on his marker on two occasions.
The Argentine had otherwise delivered another largely dominant display at the heart of the defence, helping his side build attacks from the back.
Aleksandar Kolarov 6
Again, the Serb had hardly put a foot wrong until he went missing on both counts when Wickham struck and the game underlined why a left-back is a key priority this summer for Pellegrini.
Kolarov offered enough in the offensive third to prove he is perfectly capable heading in one direction, with his cross for Edin Dzeko's late chance a case in point, but his defensive display left a lot to be desired.
Javi Garcia 5
If this was an audition to show he can be an adequate deputy to the missing Yaya Toure, then the Spaniard failed miserably.
He steadied the ship at Anfield on Sunday to a degree, but he was constantly over-run in the middle of the pitch and was laborious with the ball at his feet, unlike his midfield partner.
The only City player who could leave the field with his head held high after a largely toothless offering from everyone else around him.
The Brazilian was deployed in a slightly more advanced role to accommodate Garcia's inclusion but also offset the absence of Yaya Toure which he helped achieve if only in minor doses, such as his well-dispatched second-minute opener.
James Milner 5
The wideman was the catalyst behind City's rejuvenated second-half display against Liverpool but he was back to his timid self on Wednesday night, failing to offer the width nor the penetration to sufficiently worry a comfortable Sunderland defence.
This was Milner's big chance to stake a claim in Pellegrini's thoughts for next season. Put bluntly, he wasted it. A miscued cross in stoppage time, which sailed straight out of play, perhaps epitomised it all best.
Samir Nasri 6
The Frenchman probed throughout but found little in the way of any gaps to thread a pass and cut a frustrated figure without his partner in crime - David Silva.
Silva offered an attacking thrust Nasri failed to provide regularly enough against Sunderland, and relied on a huge slice of fortune rather than skill to net the leveller before blazing over a wonderful chance to settle the encounter.
Sergio Agüero 6
It seems harsh to condemn the Argentinian as he makes his much-anticipated return to full fitness, but he still looked some way short of his sky-high levels against the Black Cats.
He looked a yard off the pace and was visibly feeling his way back into proceedings and yet still managed to dispossess Lee Cattermole, nip away from a challenge and put the ball on a plate for Fernandinho to net the opener.
Alvaro Negredo 5
The Spaniard, like so many others on a dismal night at the Etihad, went missing and his anonymity only added to the question marks surrounding his rapid decline in the second half of the season.
'The Beast', as he is lovingly known by the Eastlands faithful, was bullied by John O'Shea and Wes Brown throughout and was unable to have anything more than a ephemeral impact.
Stevan Jovetic 6
The Montenegrin at least injected some much-needed ardour to a toiling City attack and tried to test Vito Mannone with a series of speculative shots from range.
He also assisted Nasri for the equaliser, but could not help muster a winner.
Edin Dzeko 5
The Bosnian's sole contribution upon arriving from the bench was to skew an effort well wide of the near post as he sought to convert Kolarov's clever pull-back.
Failed to provide Pellegrini's men with the added dimension needed to breach a stubborn Sunderland defence.
Jack Rodwell 5
Only emerged for the final throes of the game and had no time to make his mark.