Manchester City condemned Stoke to their second successive 4-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium as they strengthened their position in the top four.
The Potters had been bright in patches but were profligate in front of goal, allowing the clinical Citizens to cruise to victory with strikes from Fernando, Sergio Aguero, and a double from Kelechi Iheanacho.
But, despite a comprehensive victory, Man City will be left sweating on the fitness of midfielder Yaya Toure ahead of their Champions League clash with Real Madrid.
The Ivorian suffered a knock to his leg late on which left him hobbling for the final few minutes of the match and could make his a doubt for the first leg of the semi-final.
A flat opening to the match saw Iheanacho and Glenn Whelan trade chances, while Giannelli Imbula also went close with a long range strike, despite the hosts dominating possession.
After learning some harsh lessons against Tottenham in a 4-0 defeat on Monday night, the Potters were defending better, allowing the Man City forward line barely any space to exchange passes as Ryan Shawcross and Philipp Wollscheid marshalled Aguero and Iheanacho.
The Stoke duo were unable to help with 35 minutes on the clock, though, as Jesus Navas’ corner was nudged across goal and beyond Shay Given by the head of Blues midfielder Fernando, who had beaten.
And eight minutes later Pellegrini’s charges were two goals to the good when Aguero tucked home from the spot after Shawcross pulled back Iheanacho in the box following a neat exchange with Yaya Toure.
Hughes was forced into a change at the break with shot-stopper Given suffering a groin problem, but his replacement Jakob Haugaard proved he was worthy of donning the gloves when he palmed an effort from Iheanacho over the bar.
But it was Stoke who looked the brighter and more likely to score with Joselu failing to convert Marko Arnautovic’s cross, while Mame Biram Diouf thudded a header wide and Arnautovic saw a strike saved by Joe Hart.
Their failure to convert the chances was costly though as, with 63 minutes gone, Pablo Zabaleta charged down the flank and his cut-back was diverted home by the lively Iheanacho for his tenth goal in all competitions.
And the 19-year-old Nigerian grabbed his second goal of the game ten minutes later as he burst through the middle of Stoke’s defence to reach substitute Wilfried Bony’s pass round the corner. Once past his marker, the youngster neatly side-stepped the flailing Haugaard and rolled the ball home.
An Imbula free-kick did have Hart scrambling across his goal, but the strike hit the roof of his net but the biggest blow for Man City will be an injury to Yaya Toure, who was left limping by a clash with Geoff Cameron, which could make him a doubt for their Champions League semi-final first leg with Real Madrid on Tuesday.