Carlisle United 6 Oldham Athletic 0: Those sterile days of autumn sure feel a long time ago now. Carlisle have not so much rediscovered the goal touch as monopolised it. It is now 13 in three straight victories and, finally in this unpredictable season, a consistent sense of adventure when United have the ball.

Oldham were, in certain departments, willing opponents yesterday. But in the penalty box (and outside it, in Danny Grainger’s case) the Blues simply blew them away.

There could not have been a more festive sight, on this Boxing Day, than the ball disappearing into Daniel Iversen’s net time and again. This was not a vintage day for Oldham’s keeper but United still attacked their visitors to death.

In the space of 11 second-half minutes they rattled in three. By full-time it was the first time they had scored six at home since November 2010 (or October 2005 in the league). It also brought Brunton Park into the merriest possible voice and, if this is what a full-strength Blues can produce, who wouldn’t believe good things are possible in 2019?

John Sheridan may have used post-match interviews to threaten to quit if certain players do not get on board with his “demanding” nature, but he would surely not walk away from this having found, in these winter weeks, such a potent formula. Jerry Yates was again deadly while Hallam Hope and Ashley Nadesan – the left and right-sided members of the attacking three - also poached and created. Add Jack Sowerby’s purposeful midfield play, Jamie Devitt’s familiar creativity and the typical Grainger effect, along with other positive features, and this suddenly looks a side to be reckoned with.

Let us hope it can remain intact for long enough - and that Anthony Gerrard continues to end up on the right side of results for as long as his own personal issues with Oldham rumble on. The defender, accused of “racist behaviour” by the Latics despite being let off the hook by the FA for what he typed in a players’ WhatsApp group, will have enjoyed this outcome more than most.

In the early stages there was plenty on which he had to focus in a footballing sense, given that Oldham settled quicker into some sort of rhythm. It was not particularly devilish but the Latics worked things better to begin with, pressing Carlisle down the flanks and operating more comfortably than United, who struggled to get a foot on the ball.

Before Carlisle’s quick counter-attacking could be unfurled, Oldham forced a few opportunities around the box which required Gerrard and Tom Parkes to intervene. Sam Surridge nearly played in Callum Lang, and then Rob Hunt cut out a Grainger clearance and found himself in great space; Parkes shovelling the cross behind.

Frankie Bunn’s side lacked a razor edge, though, and how they were punished. Hope fired a warning flare over Oldham’s bar and then he lifted this game out of its mid-table feel with the opener. Whether or not Grainger’s swinging ball to the right was fully intended, Carlisle made perfect use of it, Nadesan and Sowerby combining, and Hope following in at close-range when it seemed challenges had taken the chance from Nadesan’s feet.

It was a goal of force but also persistence – plus the speed of breakaway United have added of late. This came to the fore again as they made it two 11 minutes later, by which time Christopher Missilou had sent a missile of a cross just out of Surridge’s reach at the other end.

United were menacing when, on the half-hour, they broke behind Bunn’s midfield through Sowerby, who fed Yates, who fed Hope, who fed Devitt. His shot from distance was parried in hamfisted fashion by Iversen but still credit Hope, for following in hungrily, and Yates, for being in the perfect place to tuck home the cross.

This demonstrated Carlisle’s attacking confidence, which dwarfed Oldham’s where it mattered. The visitors’ interplay continued to concern Carlisle but only in first-half injury time did they gain a serious opportunity, Chris O’Grady clearing the bar despite getting two stabs at it.

From here, Carlisle’s main enemy to watch out for was themselves, and Sheridan was certainly not asleep to the risk of complacency at this point judging by his post-match words. Oldham came at them from right and left, with Lang’s nimble feet a danger from different angles. His close control almost got the Latics in early in the half, before Gerrard stepped in.

A series of corners and deliveries then came as United struggled to clear lines. One deft ball from Missilou needed a more daring finish than Surridge was able to offer. Further set-pieces pushed Carlisle back – but then the Cumbrians rebounded in style.

First, on the hour, there was a swift, back-to-front attack that ended with Hope finding space on the left to cross for Nadesan, whose stooping header found the bottom corner.

Then, the increasingly inevitable sight of a Grainger goal – his fourth in as many league appearances - coming via the time-honoured avenue of a free-kick, this one met by a paltry Iversen save as the ball went via the keeper’s wrists into the top left.

Enough? No fear. Where once Carlisle were tame, now they were ravenous. With 20 minutes to go they found themselves 5-0 up through another goal that looked simple in the making and taking, but owed plenty to the vision of Devitt, with the win and the pass, and Yates, with the unstoppable run and finish.

All that time still left, and the contest stone dead. A few substitutions came and went, a few more attacks here and there, but for what did they count? Gloriously little, since United were miles over the horizon. Then there was one more insertion of the knife, Gary Liddle chesting his first Brunton Park goal in injury-time, and the bloodbath was over. If only it could always be this good.

United: Collin, Liddle, Grainger (Gillesphey 80), Gerrard, Parkes, Etuhu (Slater 73), Sowerby, Devitt, Hope, Nadesan (McCarron 76), Yates. Not used: Gray, Jones, Bennett, Campbell.

Goals: Hope 19, Yates 30, 71, Nadesan 60, Grainger 63, Liddle 90

Booked: Etuhu

Oldham: Iversen, Hunt, Taylor, Clarke, Edmundson, Missilou, Nepomuceno, Missilou, Lang, O'Grady (Branger-Engone 65), Surridge. Not used: McFarlane, Lyden, Coke, Miller, Graham, Haymer.

Booked: Missilou

Ref: Andy Haines

Crowd: 5,465 (534 Oldham fans).