Reading fell to their third defeat in as many games, as a late goal alongside two in the first-half moved Stoke City into the top six.
After conceding just one in their first seven games it has been a horror show of a week for Reading who now have to dwell over the international break on back-to-back 3-0 home defeats, with the closing pack edging nearer.
Despite finding themselves two goals behind at the interval, it was Reading that looked like the side that would open the scoring in the early exchanges.
Southampton loanee Angus Gunn was alert to stop not one but two headers to deny Alfa Semedo his first goal in a Reading shirt since joining in the summer from Benfica on loan.
Lucas Joao has flourished in front of goal so far this campaign and he very nearly got in behind to capitalise on a slow header back to Gunn, but the Stoke stopper arrived in time to clear the ball from inevitable danger.
On the quarter-hour mark, Semedo tried his luck once more with a driving short from range but the shot struggled to get through the crowd of bodies in the way and was blocked before finding the target.
John Obi Mikel lashed Stoke's first effort towards goal but was left disappointed at the outcome. After a free-kick from deep, Reading were able to clear the initial delivery but only as far as Mikel who was lurking on the edge of the area, however, his half volley sailed over the bar.
However, after the lion share of possession, the Royals were made to rue missed chances when they fell behind on the 23rd minute.
Tomas Esteves wasn't able to clear from danger and young striker Tyrese Campbell arose to pick up on the loose ball and fire home the opening goal of the game - albeit against the run of play but the Potters were clinical and took their chance.
10 minutes before the break the visitors doubled their advantage, leaving Reading with it all to do. Campbell's accidental dummy allowed it to fall perfectly into Steven Fletcher's path and he stroked it home to put Michael O'Neill's side in a very commanding position.
Just moments later Reading could have halved the deficit after a free-kick from wide on the right was swooped into the area and out to the far side where Lewis Gibson was lurking but he failed to make a good connection with the ball and Gunn claimed.
Big shouts for a penalty were heard from the hosts as defender Michael Morrison was hauled down following an Esteves corner, however, referee Keith Stroud waved the claims away.
After his mistake in the first-half, Esteves was keen to stamp his quality on the game after the interval and went very close in the opening minute. His curling effort was inches away from finding the bottom right corner and giving the Royals an early second half boost, but it trickled just wide of the upright.
Stoke could well have put the cherry on top when Campbell struck the post. In search of his second of the afternoon the striker curled one towards the back post and it cannoned off the upright before being cleared from danger - a let-off for the hosts.
A goal before the hour mark would have meant for a very interesting conclusion to the fixture, but despite Reading pressure they couldn't convert any of their half chances.
George Puscas rose highest inside the area but headed straight in to the palms of Gunn and Andy Yiadom as well as Andy Rinomhota saw their efforts blocked by a resilient Stoke back line.
A complete performance was rounded off in additional time when substitute Jacob Brown latched onto a poor back pass, rounded the keeper and stroked home Stoke's third of the afternoon.
Reading will be worried about their defensive showing in today's encounter.
Stoke were able to muster three shots on target across the 90 and ran out 3-0 victors.
It's alarming for Reading and Veljko Paunovic who kept six clean sheets and conceded just one goal in their first seven - that's a stark contrast to the last two home matches that have ended in 3-0 defeats.
Stoke looked very encouraging and will be hopeful of continuing this run of form after the international break to try and bridge a gap between themselves and the teams below.