Norwich earned three points for new boss David Wagner in his first Championship game in charge as an assured first-half display paved the way to victory at Preston.
The injury-hit Lillywhites were swept away as a goal by Teemu Pukki and two from Kieran Dowell put the Canaries three up inside half an hour.
Tom Cannon, making his debut after arriving on loan from Evertonalmost pulled one back after the break when Tim Krul tipped his shot on to the crossbar.
Any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out when Pukki slotted home his 11th of the season at the end of a slick move as Preston suffered their fourth consecutive league defeat.
They slip a couple of places to 13th in the table, with Norwich climbing above them to seventh, two points outside the play-off places.
With Emil Riis ruled out for the rest of the season – having scored two in Preston’s 3-2 win at Norwich in October – and Ched Evans also injured, Preston boss Ryan Lowe gave 20-year-old Cannon his first start, with fellow loan signing Liam Delap on the bench.
But the home side did little to trouble Krul in the first half and Pukki put Norwich ahead after the ball ran to him following a surge into the box by Onel Hernandez.
Wagner saw his team lose to Blackburn in the FA Cup last weekend, two days after his appointment as head coachbut they widened the gap just three minutes later when Dowell received a Max Aarons backheel and beat Freddie Woodman with a left-foot shot in off the post.
Then, after Kenny McLean saw an effort deflected against the woodwork, Dowell sidefooted into an open goal from Pukki’s lay-off after the Finn had run on to Josh Sargent’s through ball.
Lowe wasted no time in shaking things up with Delap and Alvaro Fernandez sent on to replace Ali McCann and Ben Woodburn, but Woodman had to make a smart save to prevent Sargent adding a fourth before the break.
Delap and Cannon provided some extra energy for Preston in the second half, with Krul denying the former in a one on one, but once Pukki had sealed the points after outmuscling Fernandez, Norwich had the luxury of giving Jacob Sorensen a few minutes of action, his first since suffering a stress fracture in his foot last August.
They remained on top to the whistle with Danel Sinani testing Woodman, and Adam Idah firing into the side-netting following break down the right – their 22nd goal attempt of the game.
Norwich will look for another success on the road in a lunchtime kick-off at Coventry next Saturday, while Preston will also be playing in the West Midlands against Birmingham.
Preston boss Ryan Lowe:
“The first half killed the game. There was some good play and good finishes from them, but from us it was very sloppy and unacceptable.
“There is no excuse for that performance – I didn’t see it coming. We fancied ourselves. We changed shape [to a back four] to be more solid and resolute, but it looked the other way.
“I can be outclassed by quality players, I just can’t be outclassed in running and fighting and really having a gutsy display and determination. We didn’t show any of that.
“It shouldn’t be difficult [to play at home]but it is at the moment.”
Norwich head coach David Wagner told BBC Radio Norfolk:
“This is a good start because we not only won this game deservedly, but we won it – and this is very important to me – with our style and our identity.
“We want to be an energetic, high-intensity, aggressive team and this is what the players have done.
“That we have quality in front of goal, everybody has known it, even if they maybe haven’t shown it in the past.
“It helped that we scored very early, and a second one as well, and this let the confidence grow – but it is only the first step.”
- 23DiabySubstituted forBradyat 73′minutesBooked at 74mins
- 6LindsayBooked at 75mins
- 13McCannSubstituted forFernándezat 30′minutes
- 18LedsonBooked at 79mins
- 10JohnsonSubstituted forParrottat 72′minutes
- 20WoodburnSubstituted forDelapat 30′minutes
- 28CannonBooked at 59mins
- 2AaronsSubstituted forSorensenat 78′minutes
- 5HanleyBooked at 55mins
- 30GiannoulisBooked at 61mins
- 17Gomes SaraBooked at 44minsSubstituted forGibbsat 72′minutes
- 10DowellSubstituted forSinaniat 72′minutes
- 22PukkiSubstituted forIdahat 72′minutesBooked at 89mins
- 25HernándezSubstituted forNúñezat 78′minutes
- Steve Martin
Match ends, Preston North End 0, Norwich City 4.
Second Half ends, Preston North End 0, Norwich City 4.
Adam Idah (Norwich City) is shown on the yellow card.
Foul by Adam Idah (Norwich City).
Ryan Ledson (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Liam Gibbs (Norwich City).
Alan Browne (Preston North End) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. Adam Idah (Norwich City) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Josh Sargent.
Attempt missed. Danel Sinani (Norwich City) left footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Marcelino Núñez.
Attempt blocked. Marcelino Núñez (Norwich City) right footed shot from the center of the box is blocked.
Ryan Ledson (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Danel Sinani (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Ryan Ledson (Preston North End).
Substitution, Norwich City. Jacob Sørensen replaces Max Aarons.
Substitution, Norwich City. Marcelino Núñez replaces Onel Hernández.
Attempt saved. Danel Sinani (Norwich City) left footed shot from the center of the box is saved in the top center of the goal.
Attempt missed. Danel Sinani (Norwich City) left footed shot from outside the box is too high from a direct free kick.
Liam Lindsay (Preston North End) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Josh Sargent (Norwich City) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Liam Lindsay (Preston North End).