TOWN'S worst mauling in five years put another black mark against their abysmal away record this season and left a bitter taste.
Not since the 7-1 humiliation at Barnsley during Peter Jackson's first spell at the helm have Town been so sickeningly taken apart as they were at Glanford Park - and the current side are better than this.
Only Airdrie United of the Bells Second Division lost more heavily on the day, and the Town fans who were streaming out long before the end no doubt needed a drop of the hard stuff from those Scottish sponsors to help them recover.
What made it worse was that Town brought the whole sorry chapter on themselves against opposition who had previously been very unsteady at home.
Lee Fowler, whose loan spell from Coventry expires after tomorrow night's LDV Vans Trophy trip to Carlisle, was the man who pushed the self-destruct button.
Booked for a foul on Matt Sparrow in the 24th minute, Fowler lost his head and launched into another wild challenge on ex-Town man Kevin Sharp which was bound to result in a second yellow seven minutes into the second half.
At the time, Jackson's side had just got themselves back into the game through Andy Booth's header after trailing to brilliant strikes by Peter Beagrie and Sparrow at the break.
But it was all downhill from the moment Fowler headed down the tunnel.
The fiery midfielder and his colleagues - there were bookings for Booth, an out-of-sorts Jon Stead and Efe Sodje in the first half - should have known better.
Not only were they subjected to some classic winding-up taunts from Scunthorpe - Terry Barwick and Sharp the main antagonists - but they should have realised that Stoke referee Tony Bates was having a stinker.
The free-kick which allowed Beagrie to curl Scunthorpe into a 17th minute lead was not a foul. Danny Schofield challenged for the ball while Beagrie pulled out of the tackle, but Bates gave the in-form wingman a perfect invitation to leave Ian Gray a bystander from 20 yards.
To have a man on the post seems to have gone out of fashion in such situations, but there was nothing Gray could do about Sparrow's stunning 23rd-minute volley which increased the lead and left Town with a mountain to climb.
Most embarrassing for the referee was when he missed Steve MacLean grabbing the ball with both hands. He waved play on, but Fowler really shouldn't have tugged him round the neck to point out the assistant's flag
A goal at the start of the second half was exactly what Town needed and it came courtesy of Booth's header from Tony Carss' cross with only 44 seconds gone.
The long delay for a re-start while Barwick received treatment - he caught an elbow from Fowler in the build-up - didn't help Town, but any thoughts of pressing for an equaliser disappeared with Fowler's red mist.
Sharp's retaliation - he was apprehended by Jackson near the touchline when threatening to do damage to the No4 - should have earned him a red card, but he stayed on the pitch as Bates again lost the plot.
Unfortunately, so too did Town.
Simple punts down the field which should have been mopped up with ease gave Scunthorpe the immediate initiative as Barwick put them 3-1 ahead just 90 seconds after Fowler's dismissal, and MacLean got the first of his hat trick with only 58 minutes gone.
That was the result of an embarrassing mix-up between Gray and Sodje and signalled a spell of complete dominance from the home side broken only by Booth's second goal on 72 minutes.
By then, MacLean - on loan from Glasgow Rangers and now top of the Division III scoring chart - had nodded another from Sharp's excellent left-wing cross and he completed the rout four minutes from time when lobbing a through ball over Gray's head.
Most of Town's 1,379 following didn't see it, preferring the trials of the M180 to witnessing their team take a hammering (they have still to win in the black kit!).
It was perhaps wise, because despite the best efforts of substitutes Chris Holland and Nat Brown and captain Booth, who went close to a hat trick with a cracking late shot, Town caved in alarmingly when down to 10 men.
Danny Schofield tested keeper Sam Russell with a late drive and Carss - who had earlier made a brilliant tackle to stop Wayne Graves from scoring - clipped the top of the bar with a free-kick, but it was cold comfort for the fans who stayed.
The cocky Barwick and Ian Kilford ran riot through the middle and, with Steve Torpey muscling people around, there was space for Beagrie to display his tricks and for Sharp and Sparrow to supply crosses.
Town were all over the place and Jackson summed it up without frills.
"We talked at half time about keeping our discipline and how we'd get back into the game, but Lee Fowler got himself sent off and we lost all our shape," he said.
"After two wonder strikes in the first half, there were three awful goals among those we conceded in the second half and our defending was really appalling.
"We have to improve on that and we have to improve on our away record, which is very worrying to say the least, otherwise we are going nowhere."
Well said, because if Town don't improve on their travels they've got no chance of making the play-offs - and they've shown enough talent already at times this season to suggest they should.
TOWN FORM (3-5-2)
Ian Gray Made great saves from Sparrow and Kilford to prevent an even worse scoreline but made some poor decisions as well Rating: 4/10
Andy Holdsworth Found it difficult to handle the threat of Beagrie and Sharp and did not get enough help. Much better in the second half. Battled Rating: 4/10
Tony Carss Got forward to set up both Town goals and made a brilliant tackle on Graves late on to prevent him scoring Rating: 5/10
Steve Yates An afternoon he will not remember fondly as Town went under, although he was off for the worst of the goals Rating: 3/10
Efe Sodje Made untypical errors for two of the goals and allowed Scunthorpe to take advantage of long punts down the pitch Rating: 3/10
Nathan Clarke One tackle on MacLean was quite brilliant but his efforts to fight fires were swamped late on Rating: 3/10
Lee Fowler Began the game well but couldn't control his aggression and his dismissal effectively cost Town the game Rating: 3/10
Dwayne Mattis Making his first start in eight months and worked hard, but Barwick and Kilford took control after Scunthorpe scored Rating: 4/10
Danny Schofield Had a couple of half chances when the game was close. Didn't get into the game enough, however Rating: 3/10
Andy Booth Scored two and battled hard in a bruising clash. Had a few other efforts as well and was easily Town's top man Rating: 6/10
Jon Stead Limped off with a thigh injury on 63. After a bright start and going close twice, he didn't figure too much. Rating: 4/10
Russell, Sharp, Jackson, Byrne, Sparrow, Torpey, Beagrie, Kilford (Keegan 72), Barwick (Graves 80), Butler (Ridley 87), MacLean.
Subs not used: Evans, Hayes.
The captain did more than his fair share of graft and got Town back in the match at 2-1 down with a fine header just 44 seconds into the second half. His second effort was only consolation, but he caused Scunthorpe plenty of problems and led by example
The sending-off of Lee Fowler turned the tide irreversibly in the home side's favour, even though some woeful defending made matters worse. Such indiscipline, however, is undermining any possible Town challenge at the top
Subs used: Scunthorpe: Keegan for Kilford 72, Graves for Barwick 80, Ridley for Butler 87. Town: Holland, for Yates 57, Brown for Stead 63.
Subs not used: Scunthorpe: Evans, Hayes. Town: Senior, Mirfin, Lloyd.
Scorers: Scunthorpe: Beagrie 17, Sparrow 23, Barwick 54, MacLean 58, 68 & 84. Town: Booth 46 & 72.
Referee: Tony Bates (Stoke).
Dismisal: Town: Fowler (two yellows).
Bookings: Scunthorpe: Butler, Sharp, Torpey. Town: Stead, Sodje, Booth.
Shots on target: Scunthorpe 11, Town 7.
Corners: Scunthorpe 2, Town 2.
Caught offside: Scunthorpe 3, Town 3.
Free-kicks awarded: Scunthorpe 16, Town 15.
Attendance: 4,715 (Away: 1,379).