Jarrod Bowen continued to enhance his reputation as one of the best players in the Championship with two goals as Hull hammered Preston 4-0 at the KCOM Stadium.
The 22-year-old broke the deadlock in the first half, taking his tally for the club to 50, and rounded off the scoring with his 14th of the season.
After Josh Magennis' penalty had doubled City's advantage at the start of the second half, Bowen also laid on a sublime third for the equally-impressive Kamil Grosicki.
Alex Neil's Preston side lost further ground on the automatic-promotion spots, slipping six points off second-placed Leeds after a second consecutive defeat.
It could have been so different for Preston had Sean Maguire's curling shot not cannoned back off the post in the fourth minute.
Paul Gallagher also had an effort deflected wide in a lively start from the visitors.
Hull responded and only desperate defending denied Grosicki from scoring, with a combination of Patrick Bauer and Declan Rudd deflecting the ball over the top for a corner.
Tom Barkhuizen took a pass in his stride and worked home goalkeeper George Long down at his left from outside the area.
City got their first goal in the 30th minute through their talisman, albeit in fortunate fashion.
Grosicki's cross was deflected back across goal by Joe Rafferty into the forward's path and he tapped in from close range for his landmark strike.
Not for the first time, Preston got in behind the Hull defence, with the locals screaming for offside, but Daniel Johnson sliced a shot wide from Billy Bodin's cross.
Rudd then kept Preston in the game with a string of fine saves before the interval.
The goalkeeper parried a Grosicki low shot following a fine run, tipped over a fizzing Josh Bowler drive, prevented a Bowen effort from squeezing underneath him and then kept out Magennis' acrobatic close-range backwards volley.
However, Rudd could do nothing to stop Hull from sealing the points with two goals in the first six minutes of the second half.
Magennis scored from the penalty spot after Ryan Ledson had taken down Bowler, before Grosicki converted Bowen's cut-back to complete a superb move.
Things could have got worse for Preston had Jackson Irvine not skied a rebound from close range after Rudd parried out Grosicki's low free-kick.
Preston almost set up a nervy final 20 minutes, but Bauer found the side-netting and Josh Harrop struck the post.
Bowen had the last laugh in the 77th minute, breaking through and lashing home from a tight angle, and still had time to volley over as he eyed a hat-trick.
What the managers said...
Hull's Grant McCann: "I want [Bowen] to keep scoring. He deserves it. That is the biggest thing that he has, his mentality is unbelievable. People do not see that. How high he is every day on the training pitch, the best trainer. In the 85th minute when he lost the ball, he sprinted back to get it. He gets the rewards, with all the goals and assists, because of his work-rate.
"The question, if you ask me if we are going to sell in January, is not for me really. The way he is playing at the minute, we are over the moon. I have said it before and I will say it again, he is the best at what he does in this league, in that position. And we are delighted to have him."
Preston's Alex Neil: "To start with, we had players playing out of position. We have got one fit full-back at the club. We are missing a left-sided centre-back and, naturally, the defence is weakened because of that.
"It was one of them ones where we came up against a team where their best players are their wide players and all my full-backs are missing, so I knew it was going to be difficult. Their forward players we struggled to deal with and I thought they were ruthless when they got into good positions."