Bragging rights will remain in Hamburg after HSV won the 104th Nordderby with Pierre-Michel Lasogga playing a starring role.
He netted twice within the first half to leave Werder Bremen with a mountain to climb at the break.
However, the visitors fought back and saw Claudio Pizarro's penalty saved before Anthony Ujah grabbed one back.
They couldn't quite managed to level the scores, though, and Hamburg ran out 2-1 winners.
Bruno Labaddia made four changes from the side that lost to Borussia Dortmund a week previous, with Jaroslav Drobny, Johan Djourou, Gideon Jung and Michael Gregoitsch coming in for René Adler, Cléber, Albin Ekdal and Gojko Kacar, respectively. Viktor Skripnik fielded an almost identical starting eleven to that which lost against Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal, with Santiago Garcia replacing Janek Sternberg as the only alteration.
Hosts start like a house on fire
Whether or not it was Pokal hangover can be debated, but there was no doubting that HSV started better and took full advantage of a sluggish Bremen. A long kick forward from Drobny made its way to Nicolai Müller, who left Papy Djilobodji on the ground. He sped to the by-line, cut the ball back into the middle and Pierre-Michel Lasogga was on hand to tap into an open net. The home support couldn't have asked for a better start.
Hamburg continued to press forward and would have not been begrudged a second goal with their impressive opening 20 minutes. Jannik Vestergaard's header halted Lewis Holtby's hopes of a stunning volley, while Felix Wiedwald was called into action from Gregoritsch's long-range, dipping free-kick.
Lasogga makes it two
Their hard work was very nearly undone by a quick Werder break that saw Zlatko Junuzovic feed Florian Grillitsch through on goal. The latter of the Austrian duo went one-on-one with Drobny, though the veteran stopper flew off his line to close the angle and made a smart save.
The Volkspark outfit managed to navigate their way round a sticky patch and were quickly back on the attack. Gregoritsch was feeling hard done by once more after Wiedwald pulled out another important stop to deny him a deserved goal from Holtby's cross.
Lasogga's goal drought had lasted from November, but a second goal after the half-hour mark meant that was soon forgotten by the jubilant home crowd. Mathias Ostrzolek was the provider for the powerful forward this time around, as Lasogga rose highest to power home from close range. Clemens Fritz fired off a late shot that Drobny did well to push round the post, only after picking up his 13th booking of the season in what was a half to forget for the visitors.
Bremen fight back but can't grab a second
Knowing that they had a comfortable cushion to sit on, Hamburg were content to begin the second half with a little less purpose. Bremen, driven on by Fritz, suddenly looked like they had a chance in the game when Claudio Pizarro was brought down by Djourou's outstretched leg. The Peruvian stepped up and saw his weak penalty saved by Drobny; a bad day was somehow getting worse. Sambou Yatabaré was soon replaced by Anthony Ujah, with Skripnik desperate to find a goal.
It looked like HSV were then going to kill the game when Gregoritsch and Lasogga both went close from the edge of the area, though neither could get past a determined Wiedwald. Ujah had made a real difference since coming on and handed his side a lifeline after the hour. A header clear was put back in by Djilobodji, where the Nigerian international stood in wait to head home at the second attempt and halve the deficit.
The game was set for a grandstand finish, but it never materialised. Bremen couldn't find an extra gear or a way through the home back-line, in what was a tame end to the contest. Hamburg, on the other hand, were more than happy to hear Manuel Gräfe blow for full-time and almost make sure of their Bundesliga status for another year.
Bremen remain in the relegation spot, though some unfavourable results could see them cut adrift and remain stuck in 16th. They take on VfB Stuttgart next weekend, which is shaping up to be a hugely important clash. HSV, on the other hand, travel to 1. FSV Mainz 05 with the pressure - largely - off their shoulders.