A 15-match winless streak had seen the Rosanero tumbling towards the second tier after nine seasons at the top table, but an early goal from Josip Ilicic gave the home faithful reason to believe on Saturday.
And towards the end of a season where Palermo have so often surrendered any advantage, Fabrizio Miccoli rubber-stamped all three points against an under-par Roma side who never really got going.
Palermo are now three points shy of 17th-placed Genoa with eight games remaining while Roma drop to seventh.
Palermo were well aware there were no easy games remaining in their late bid for survival and in-form Roma represented one of the more daunting fixtures from their last nine.
The Sicilians, though, were the better side throughout and despite an early near miss from Alessandro Florenzi, Palermo would largely run Roma ragged.
Miccoli fired the first warning shot by clattering Maarten Stekelenburg's crossbar in the seventh minute and, 15 minutes later, the Rosanero took the lead.
The end of a fine solo run saw Ilicic step inside to beat the last man and coolly pass the ball underneath a diving Stekelenburg and into the bottom corner.
It was nearly 2-0 one minute later as Jasmin Kurtic seized on Michael Morganella's pass to slam the ball against a post.
A brief spell of visiting pressure followed as Marquinho skimmed a post before Francesco Totti saw his double salvo repelled by a resolute Stefano Sorrentino.
Palermo had weathered the storm and they pulled further ahead 10 minutes before the break, Ilicic's skilful run setting Miccoli away to smash the ball home despite the attentions of Nicolas Burdisso.
Roma's timid response then saw Daniele De Rossi's tame shot swept up by Sorrentino and Palermo held a rare two-goal lead going into the break.
The Giallorossi were somewhat brighter after the interval but Palermo stayed strong, first closing Pablo Osvaldo into a weak effort before watching Miralem Pjanic's shot on the turn sail into the stands.
There might even have been a third goal for the hosts when the majestic Ilicic picked out Edgar Barreto lurking in the box, but the Paraguayan's finish ended up a few metres wide of goal.
Roma's disappointing afternoon was summed up at the death as Sorrentino leapt across his box to keep out a swerving solo effort from Osvaldo.