JAMES Hanson plays the target almost as often as the target man.

Whenever things go wrong, it seems the big forward is a convenient choice to carry the can.

That can happen when you’re part of the fixtures and fittings of the place.

Of the many shortcomings to City’s performance at Burton a week ago, Hanson’s wasted one-on-one at 1-0 was highlighted.

Phil Parkinson knew his centre forward could do much better and pulled him to one side in the team hotel on Saturday morning for a “kick up the proverbials.”

Parkinson made the point that Hanson was fortunate to be making his 300th appearance and it had been a toss-up with Jamie Proctor for who would partner Wes Thomas against the Posh.

His manager remains a huge fan of what the number nine brings to his team. He’s not sure if others share the same enthusiasm.

But the pep talk was to remind Hanson that he would not accept him cantering through proceedings. His place is not written in stone.

The response was there for all to see; Saturday was Hanson at his magnificent, defender-dominating best.

“When Hans is like that, he’s unplayable,” said an impressed Parkinson. “But we need him like that every week.

“We had a good chat before the game and I said it was time to produce one of his big performances.

“Sometimes with James he probably thinks that (even playing at) 75-80 per cent, I’m still good enough and going to get picked. But I was close to not playing him.

“So I’m so pleased he got his goals and just completely dominated the two centre backs.

“I do think that sometimes other people do appreciate him more than our own supporters.

“For me, you’ve got to know the lad’s personality and how unselfish he is. That’s what people don’t understand.”

The pre-match psychology was the first of many aspects Parkinson and City got spot on as they buried the London Road hoodoo in some style.

The bookies would have offered you 150/1 on a correct scoreline. One lucky Bantam punter stuck £2.50 on it but also revealed he did that most weeks – so will barely be breaking even since the last time they won by such a margin in the league.

That was in September 2013 against Uwe Rosler's Brentford who played three-quarters of the afternoon with ten men after the keeper was sent off. It’s been a while.

It would be remiss not to mention Peterborough boss Graham Westley’s role in his own side’s downfall.

His team selection and subsequent in-game tactics were a classic example of a manager trying to be far too clever for his own good.

After the gruelling FA Cup slog with West Brom three days earlier, plenty of home changes were expected. Peterborough do, after all, have a big enough squad to cope.

But he surprised many locals by sticking with teenager Martin Samuelsen, who had run himself into the ground against the Baggies, and defender Gabriel Zakuani whose midweek outing had been his first back since a lengthy injury absence.

He also subbed left back Andrew Fox, a player he claimed had run 17km in the FA Cup, with an attacking midfielder after half an hour. All looked out on their feet.

Parkinson, on the other hand, kept it simple as City played round the Peterborough diamond at will.

In doing so, he inflicted Posh’s heaviest league home defeat since 2010 when Charlton won 5-1. No prizes for guessing who the away manager was that day.

After the Burton debacle, Parkinson had ditched his own midfield diamond to universal joy among supporters. Chris Routis, who had taken much of their stick, did not even make the bench.

Of the six changes, the two most significant were in the middle of the park. Lee Evans and new arrival Josh Cullen showed how central midfield should be done.

They kept City ticking, they kept the play moving, they kept the ball. Gone were the “Stevie G” worldy passes that Evans likes to try; it was pass and move at its most effective.

City suddenly possessed that quality on the ball that Parkinson had been moaning about a week earlier. They looked a totally different side for it.

Instead of looking to contain and cancel out, the visitors set the agenda and made Peterborough do the worrying.

The left-side axis of Kyel Reid and James Meredith was back to its optimum best; their surging runs and link-ups demonstrating the confidence in the City ranks.

The defence rewound the clock to their clean-sheet marathon after recent away wobbles. The double save from Ben Williams and subsequent block on the line from Stephen Darby just after half-time was as crucial to the result as any of the goals.

Meanwhile, Hanson was taking full advantage of the obvious immobility of the suffering Zakuani.

Right on half-time, Reid delivered a peach of a cross and Hanson easily beat his marker to power it inside the post.

Then it was Reid’s turn on 56 minutes. Peterborough allowed Evans’ long throw to bounce in the box and the winger cleverly shook off Michael Bostwick before finding the bottom corner.

On an afternoon of milestone events, it was his first City goal in the league for over two years.

Then it was Hanson’s turn again. Evans was clattered in the build-up but referee Dean Whitestone for once let play go on, allowing Meredith to pick out the big man for a looping header in off the far post.

It is virtually a year since he last scored two in a game at Leyton Orient – what a difference proper service from out wide can make.

And City were still not finished, even if many of the Posh fans had seen enough by then and streamed towards the exits.

Meredith had the bit between his teeth in what was easily his best performance of an up-and-down campaign.

He crunched through a half-hearted Chris Forrester on the touchline and although his cross was too deep for Hanson, Tony McMahon’s drive was turned home by Steve Davies – off his backside.

It put the cap on an afternoon when everything had gone perfectly to plan and City reminded the growing number of doubters that they can still be contenders.

But now the bar has been set again. It’s whether they can follow it up.