The pre-match build-up was dominated by a report earlier in the day that Sherwood would be replaced as Spurs boss this summer, regardless of how results went between now and the end of the campaign.
By that reckoning, this impressive 5-1 comeback win will have little impact on his future, although the same cannot be said for Sunderland, who may have two games in hand on many of their rivals but languish bottom of the table and seven points adrift of safety.
Before the match Sherwood insisted it was "business as usual" at Spurs and that his players should not be affected by the speculation, although their minds certainly appeared elsewhere as they gifted Sunderland the opener.
Collecting a poor return ball from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, Vlad Chiriches - on his first appearance since January 29 - played a terrible square ball straight into the path of Lee Cattermole, who impressively slotted home his first Sunderland goal to the ire of the home support.
Wes Brown had headed just wide before that, but it was Spurs who had dominated the play and duly drew level when Emmanuel Adebayor snuck in at the back post to bundle home a Christian Eriksen cross.
Tottenham continued to knock on the door as half-time approached and Sherwood was incensed that referee Lee Mason, who earlier missed a Santiago Vergini handball, waved away appeals for a penalty after Harry Kane was upended by Carlos Cuellar.
The home fans would not be frustrated for long, though, as Kane prodded home his first Premier League goal to give Spurs a deserved lead.
Eriksen provided that assist and got a goal of his own with 12 minutes remaining, before Adebayor tucked home his second and substitute Gylfi Sigurdsson struck home in stoppage time to put a smile on Sherwood's face at the end of a tough day.
The match began with a warm embrace between Sherwood and former Tottenham team-mate Poyet, whose side had managed just one point from their last six matches.
That lack of form showed in the early stages as Spurs began brightly, with Vito Mannone having to backtrack to tip over a deflected Eriksen cross.
However, for all of the hosts' good play, Sunderland came close after 14 minutes when a powerful Brown header went just wide of the far post.
It was poor defending from Spurs and it got worse just three minutes later as they farcically gifted Sunderland the lead.
Chiriches collected a poor return pass from Lloris and continued to play the ball into no-man's land, where Cattermole capitalised by showing excellent composure to slot home from 25 yards.
It was a sucker punch that Tottenham attempted to cancel out immediately, with Kane wasting a chance at an immediate leveller.
Kyle Naughton flashed a long-range effort into the side-netting as Spurs upped the ante, before Adebayor scooped over after a Kane attempt was blocked by Vergini's hand.
No penalty was awarded but Tottenham soon managed to eke out a leveller thanks to their returning top scorer, with Eriksen's fine ball bundled home at the back post by Adebayor.
It was no less than the home side deserved and they tried to add to another before half-time, with Kane hitting a low strike at Mannone before Danny Rose curled an audacious strike just wide.
Adam Johnson had an early half-chance when play resumed for the second half and Sherwood was incensed when Kane wriggled free in the box before being taken down by Cuellar.
The Spurs boss' touchline antics were being matched by counterpart Poyet, who had Phil Bardsley to thank for a last-ditch tackle that stopped Eriksen slotting home a fizzing Aaron Lennon cross.
The home side were getting a lot of joy down the flanks and it bared fruit in the 58th minute.
Eriksen was again the provider as he whipped in a fine ball for Kane to prod home his first Premier League goal - followed-up soon after by a collision that required a bandage to his head.
However, he returned to the field unrattled by the collision and Spurs continued to press, with Naughton and Lennon having efforts blocked.
Substitute Ignacio Scocco hit the side-netting on a rare Sunderland voyage of forwards, before Eriksen put the game out of reach with a strike that took a slight deflection off Bardsley on its way in.
Adebayor added a fourth after Kane's initial strike squirmed through Mannone's grasp, with the Sunderland goalkeeper beaten again in stoppage time by substitute Sigurdsson.