Lyndon Dykes' double helped Queens Park Rangers go top of the Championship and handed manager Michael Beale what may be the perfect Loftus Road farewell.
Dykes struck the opener from the spot after Cardiff were reduced to 10 men when Jack Simpson was shown a straight red card after just 18 minutes.
The striker doubled the lead before half-time and Ken Paal headed a third.
It was yet another impressive R's display, with Beale set for talks with Wolves to take over from Bruno Lage.
Wolves have made Beale first choice to be their new manager and are due to discuss the position with him on Thursday.
Unless there are unforeseen issues, Steven Gerrard's former assistant at Rangers and Aston Villa is set to be in charge against Leicester this weekend.
That will be a source of pride and disappointment for QPR so soon after taking pole position in the Championship - on goal difference - with Sheffield United and Burnley both dropping points.
After five games unbeaten, Beale had asked his players to show "renewed energy and confidence" following Saturday's loss at Luton Town, and he got both.
Dykes got the first two goals but Ilias Chair was the architect. Time and again the Moroccan midfielder played his way through Cardiff and twice went close to getting a deserved strike of his own.
It was a drastically different story for Beale's opposite number Mark Hudson.
After a promising start as Cardiff's interim manager, the brief honeymoon period is now over and concerns are mounting.
Back-to-back defeats without a goal - only Coventry and Preston have scored fewer in the Championship - is worrying form before Sunday's south Wales derby.
Cardiff will now also be without centre-back Simpson for that game through suspension, while Perry Ng is an injury doubt.
The Welsh side rested captain Joe Ralls, perhaps with Swansea in mind, and temporary skipper Ryan Wintle and Niels Nkounkou both threatened from 25 yards out as the visitors started in buoyant mood.
However, the wind was taken out of their sails when they lost a goal and a player on 18 minutes.
Sinclair Armstrong looked sharp on his first start of the season and his turn of pace proved too much for Simpson, who was lured into a foul that brought both a penalty and red card.
Dykes whipped his penalty low into the corner to spark chants of "we are top of the league" from the home faithful.
The Scotland forward doubled the hosts' lead before half-time, this time from even closer range.
Ethan Laird, on loan from Manchester United, was a constant threat out wide and Cardiff's rejigged defence was pulled out of position too easily to leave Dykes with an easy tap-in in the 33rd minute.
Ng failed to shake off an earlier ankle knock and, from then, it felt like damage limitation for the Bluebirds.
Chair continued to torment the visitors, almost producing a third for Dykes.
Cardiff keeper Ryan Allsop denied Tim Iroegbunam from distance but could do little as Paal's header from Leon Balogun's crossed looped into the far post and wrapped up the three points.
QPR: Dieng, Laird (Kakay 76'), Balogun, Clarke-Salter, Paal, Johansen, Field, Iroegbunam (Amos 71'), Chair (Richards 76'), Armstrong (Dozzell 58'), Dykes (Bonne 76'). Subs: Dickie, Archer.
Cardiff City: Allsop, Nkounkou, Simpson, Kipre, Ng (Sang 46'), O’Dowda (Philogene 76'), Rinomhota, Wintle (Ralls 76'), Sawyers (Sawyers 21'), Ojo, Robinson (Harris 61'). Subs: Etete, Alnwick.