Victory over Everton at the Stadium of Light on Wednesday evening would secure both Sunderland's Barclays Premier League status and their share of the bumper new broadcasting deal.
As a result, the game is one of the most significant in the Wearside club's recent history.
We take a look at some of the club's more notable fixtures.
April 23 1913: Aston Villa 1 Sunderland 1
Four days after losing their first FA Cup final 1-0 to Villa in front of a crowd of 120,081 at Crystal Palace, Sunderland drew 1-1 away to the same opposition, paving the way to clinch the Division One title the following weekend and in the process prevent the Midlands club from claiming the domestic double.
April 13 1936: Birmingham 2 Sunderland 7
The Wearsiders secured the title once again with an Easter Monday demolition job at Birmingham with Bobby Gurney - who finished the season as the division's joint top scorer along with team-mate Raich Carter on 31 goals - striking four times.
May 5 1973: Sunderland 1 Leeds 0
Few gave then second division Sunderland much chance of defeating Division One aristocrats Leeds in the FA Cup final despite the fact they had already disposed of the previous season's runners-up Arsenal on their way to Wembley, but Ian Porterfield's strike and a remarkable double save from Jimmy Montgomery produced one of the greatest shocks in the competition's history.
May 17 1987: Sunderland 4 Gillingham 3
(Aggregate 6-6, Gillingham win on away goals)
In the days when the 20th-placed side in Division Two entered a play off with the third, fourth and fifth-placed sides in Division Three for the final promotion and relegation place, the Black Cats lost the first leg of their semi-final 3-2 at Gillingham and despite a dramatic 4-3 extra-time victory in the return, slipped into the third tier on away goals.
May 25 1998: Charlton 4 Sunderland 4
(after extra-time, Charlton win 7-6 on penalties)
The 1997-98 Division One play-off final is regarded as a classic after Sunderland-born Clive Mendonca plundered a hat-trick for Charlton at Wembley and took the game into a penalty shoot-out which was ultimately decided when keeper Sasa Ilic kept out Michael Gray's spot-kick to deny the Black Cats a place in the Premier League.