While the Bluebirds now sit seven points off the top six, the visitors are all but out of the race for promotion after four defeats in five games.
When Cardiff made the decision to hand Mick McCarthy a long-term deal, the club were on an upward trajectory, seemingly guaranteed to remain in close proximity to the playoffs.
While there will not be an over-reaction to two matches without success, the last-gasp defeat against Watford has left the Welsh outfit as rank outsiders to earn promotion to the Premier League.
Needing to overcome a seven-point deficit in 10 matches, it leaves McCarthy to consider changes to his personnel and tactics, aware that draws are no longer enough for his side.
A fixture against an out-of-sorts Stoke team represents the perfect opportunity to end their wait for a 16th triumph of the campaign, but there is now a sense of urgency with regards to Cardiff's attack rediscovering their ruthless streak.
Kieffer Moore now has just three goals to his name from his last seven outings, his strike-rate dropping off significantly since netting five times in as many matches beforehand.
The Potters would have fancied their chances against the inconsistent North-East outfit, but they were outfought and outclassed over the 90 minutes.
Now trailing sixth-placed Barnsley by 13 points, only winning at least eight of their remaining 10 matches will keep Stoke motivated during the closing weeks of the campaign.
However, having collected less than a point per game since the start of 2021, O'Neill may already feel it necessary to start laying the foundations for next season.
Cardiff City possible starting lineup:
Phillips; Morrison, Flint, Nelson; Ng, Vaulks, Ralls, Brown; Bacuna, Ojo; Moore
Stoke City possible starting lineup:
Gunn; Smith, Batth, Chester, Norrington-Davies; Mikel, Thompson; Matondo, Powell, Clarke; Vokes
We say: Cardiff City 2-0 Stoke City
The manner of Stoke's defeat at Middlesbrough suggests that they are now out of contention for a return to the Premier League. While we expect an improved performance, Cardiff are well set to get back to winning ways with minimal fuss.
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