Home United showed a signal of intent on Thursday night as they produced an emphatic 9-3 victory against out-of-sorts Brunei DPMM at Bishan Stadium.
Faris Ramli got the match ball by scoring four goals, while Croatian frontman Stipe Plazibat grabbed a double. Khairul Nizam, Adam Swandi and Song Uiyoung also chipped in on the act as the Protectors closed to within two points of leaders Albirex Niigata (S).
Faris got the Protectors on the way on 21 minutes by chipping past the onrushing DPMM keeper Alizanda Sitom, before tapping home Plazibat's cross to double the lead on the half hour.
Plazibat then came up with two neat finishes within three minutes to make it 4-0, before Nizam benefited from Faris' cross on 41 minutes to extend the score gap.
Faris then completed his hat trick on the stroke of half-time by firing home from 12 yards out to put Home a stunning 6-0 up at the break.
The goals kept coming after the restart with Adam benefitting from another Faris cross to make it seven on 49 minutes.
DPMM finally got some reprieve a minute later through Brazilian forward Rafael Ramazotti.
Aidil Sharin's side were simply unstoppable on the night, however, as Song and Faris scored in quick succession to make it 9-1 to the hosts just before the hour mark.
DPMM would pull two goals back via brothers Shahrazen Said and Adi Said on 64 and 82 minutes, but it proved to be too little too late for Steve Kean's outfit. They remain second-from-bottom with just four points from nine matches.
Faris would finish with four assists to go with four goals in an impressive individual display ahead of Singapore's June internationals against Myanmar, Chinese Taipei and Argentina.
In a concurrent game at Hougang Stadium, Tampines Rovers bounced back from Sunday's 4-1 defeat to Albirex with a 3-0 victory against Hougang United.
All three goals came after the break, with Khairul Amri breaking the deadlock on 58 minutes with a sizzling grounder into the bottom right corner from close range.
Madhu Mohana nodded home Irwan Shah's teasing cross into the box on 85 minutes to make it 2-0. Then substitute Jamil Ali completed the rout deep into injury time by tapping Ryutaro Megumi's cross from the right byline into an empty net.
The result puts Tampines two points behind second-placed Home United and four points off Albirex, while Hougang remained in fifth with 13 points from 10 matches.
Hougang United: Khairulhin Khalid (GK), Nazrul Nazari, Lionel Tan, Atsushi Shirota, Faiz Salleh (Ariyan Shamsuddin 83'), Fabian Kwok, Zulfahmi Arifin, Amir Zalani (Afiq Noor 46'), Azhar Sairudin (C), Fumiya Kogure, Antoine Viterale (Syukri Bashir 76')
Tampines Rovers: Izwan Mahbud (GK), Madhu Mohana, Fahrudin Mustafic (C), Daniel Bennett (Irwan Shah 83'), Jufri Taha, Son Yong Chan, Shahdan Sulaiman, Fazli Ayob, Ryutaro Megumi, Yasir Hanapi (Jamil Ali 90'), Khairul Amri (Diego Silvas 88')