Black Cats finish 14th as curtain falls on campaign.
Sunderland were edged by Swansea on Wearside as Gus Poyet's side rounded off a memorable 2013-14 campaign.
Having secured their top-flight status in midweek following a heroic recovery, the Black Cats found themselves two goals down inside 15 minutes courtesy of strikes from Nathan Dyer and Marvin Emnes.
Fabio Borini reduced the arrears with his 10th goal of the season five minutes into the second half, but the in-form Wilfried Bony put City out of reach with a 54th-minute strike.
Another bumper crowd of almost 46,000 produced a lively atmosphere throughout as the Stadium of Light reflected on a season which saw the Black Cats secure Barclays Premier League survival with a superb late run.
In the end, Poyet's men finished the season in 14th position having been bottom of the pile as recently as the middle of April.
Safety was secured with a run of four straight victories plus a draw at eventual champions Manchester City, and although the Black Cats couldn't make it five wins on the spin, they can look back on a sensational late turnaround in fortunes.
Poyet brought Phil Bardsley and Liam Bridcutt back into the side for the final game of the campaign, with the pair replacing Marcos Alonso and Lee Cattermole.
The game kicked off amidst a party atmosphere, and a quiet start gave way to the opening goal after seven minutes.
Wayne Routledge threaded a neat ball in behind Bardsley for Dyer, who neatly clipped a shot over Vito Mannone and into the net.
The visitors found themselves 2-0 ahead just before the quarter-hour when Emnes turned away from John O'Shea to lash an unstoppable shot past Mannone from just inside the box.
Stung by the visitors' fast start, Sunderland upped the ante and almost reduced the arrears 27 minutes in as Jordi Amat flicked Seb Larsson's cross towards his own goal only to be saved by the post.
Bardsley curled an effort wide with the half-time break approaching, though the former Manchester United man had to be alert at the other end to hack away a dangerous cross from Routledge inside his own six-yard box.
The defender was busy indeed, testing Gerhard Tremmel with a 20-yard blast which the Swansea keeper did well to tip over the bar.
Wes Brown headed the resulted corner wide as Sunderland's deficit remained two goals at the break.
Poyet's side made a bright start to the second half and made it 2-1 within five minutes of the restart following a period of pressure.
Larsson's corner was measured brilliantly to the front post, where Borini - who was battered and bruised at the end of a typically committed performance - powered a header beyond Tremmel who got a piece of the ball but couldn't keep it out.
It was almost 2-2 just a minute later, but Tremmel pulled off an excellent save to palm out Adam Johnson's low drive after the winger tricked his way into the box.
But Swansea hit back to re-establish their two-goal cushion through Bony, whose drive from 16 yards clipped the inside of the far post and spun across the line.
That proved enough to see Swansea home, though Sunderland kept pushing in an attempt to find a way back into the game.
Bardsley, who appeared to hurt his hand in the first half, was replaced by Ondrej Celustka soon after Bony's goal.
It was Johnson leading the charge as the winger fired narrowly off-target having been found by Jack Colback on the edge of the box.
Meanwhile Larsson was denied by a great save from Tremmel after curling a free-kick around the defensive wall from a narrow angle.
The Swede was then replaced by El Hadji Ba, with the French youngster handed a league debut off the bench.
Johnson was still sniffing a goal, blasting narrowly wide once more before launching an audacious effort goalwards from at least 35 yards, which was gathered by Tremmel.
Happy to sit on their lead, Swansea threatened infrequently although Bony did get a sight of goal late on but saw his effort deflected into the hands of Mannone.
Jozy Altidore – on as an 83rd-minute sub for O'Shea – came closest to reducing the arrears when he blasted a well-struck effort just past the angle of post and bar from 25 yards.
But there was to be no breakthrough for Sunderland, who returned to the field after the final whistle to thank the red and white army for their support at the end of a campaign which will live long in the memory.
- Bardsley (Celustka)
- O'Shea (Altidore)
- Yellow Bridcutt
- Larsson (Ba)
- Yellow Borini
- Tiendalli (Davies)
- Amat Yellow
- Emnes (de Guzmán) Yellow
- Fulton (Britton) Yellow
- de Guzmán
- Vázquez García