IT proved to be a day to forget for Tony Pulis' side as a brace from Clint Dempsey sent them home to the Potteries empty-handed from an encounter which also saw skipper Ryan Shawcross dismissed.
The Potters had early opportunities to take the lead, though they were forced to rue those missed chances when American international Dempsey turned home Andy Johnson's cross midway through the first half.
Shawcross was shown red just minutes into the second half for a professional foul, and from the resulting spot-kick Dempsey secured the hosts all three points and completed a League double over the Potters.
Before the game, the City boss made ten changes to his starting line up from the side which beat Cardiff in the FA Cup earlier in the week, whilst he also included new signing John Carew amongst a strong substitutes bench which also featured Jermaine Pennant and Ricardo Fuller.
Barely five minutes was on the clock by the time Shawcross should have headed the Potters into the lead.
The City skipper rose above Dickson Etuhu to meet Etherington's neat delivery but planted his header inches wide of Mark Schwarzer's post with the keeper well and truly beaten.
A minute later the hosts could count themselves unlucky not to have found the breakthrough as a speculative effort from Damien Duff rattled the crossbar, whilst Danny Murphy went close shortly after with a strike from 25-yards.
An entertaining opening to proceedings continued when Rory Delap freed Tuncay down the left, though his stinging effort was superbly saved by the legs of the Fulham keeper.
It was Asmir Begovic's turn to show off his skills midway through the half as he superbly palmed away a curling effort from the impressive Duff, after he had manoeuvred enough space inside the danger zone to carve out an opportunity.
The post was next to come to the hosts rescue on the half hour mark to deny Kenwyne Jones after he was quickest to react to a knockdown inside the danger zone by Shawcross, but the opening goal of the game wasn't too long in waiting.
A superb piece of skill from Andrew Johnson culminated in the former Crystal Palace star drilling a dangerous ball across goal which Dempsey tucked home with aplomb from close range.
Things could have been even worse moments later had Begovic not denied Duff who fired an effort goalwards after Murphy cleverly picked him out with a quick free-kick.
City's hopes of a second half fight-back were all but over just seven minutes into the second half when Shawcross was shown red for a professional foul on Dempsey.
To compound to the Potters misery, the incident occurred inside the 18-yard box gifting the hosts the chance to double their advantage from the spot, something Dempsey duly obliged to as he sent Begovic the wrong way.
Pulis changed things around in an effort to rejuvenate his side as he introduced Carew, Glenn Whelan and Abdoulaye Faye, and whilst there was an added freshness to the team, a goal never looked likely despite the best attempts of Jones, who went close on two opportunities.
It was, in fact, Mark Hughes' side who looked likely to add to their tally late on as Delap turned an effort onto his own post following good work by Duff, whilst Murphy will feel he should have done better after finding himself time and space only to smash the ball well over the bar.