The lead was doubled through Yaya Toure’s low 20-yard drive before Wilfried Bony headed in another de Bruyne delivery.
The brilliant Belgian calmly scored before Fabio Borini’s consolation, as Bony skied a penalty later on.
City will be concerned by the second-half departure of skipper Kompany, just minutes after coming on, having missed the previous eight matches with a calf injury.
The defeat leaves Sunderland still five points adrift of Premier League safety, while City remain in third place.
Manchester City may have lost to Arsenal last time out, but manager Manuel Pellegrini was adamant his side – when fully fit – are the strongest side in the Premier League.
Sunderland did little to test that theory as they allowed Pellegrini’s men to return to winning ways in totally dominant style.
While just too good to handle as an offensive unit, the hosts were still far from convincing defensively as the Black Cats created several chances of their own.
And when Borini scored at the second attempt from close range, it meant City had failed to keep a clean sheet for an eighth successive match.