Everton began life after Roberto Martinez by easing to a 3-0 win over relegated Norwich City at Goodison Park.
Toffees fans had been calling for the Spaniard’s head with increasing ferocity and Bill Kenwright finally brought the axe down on Thursday.
Only five home wins in the Premier League this season played a big part in Martinez’s demise but David Unsworth and Joe Royle, who were placed in temporary charge, were victorious at the first time of asking as Norwich were dispatched 3-0.
The relegated Canaries certainly did not offer the stiffest opposition and James McCarthy put the hosts ahead in the 19th minute, with Leighton Baines netting a penalty just before half-time.
Kevin Mirallas added the third three minutes after the break as the toxic atmosphere of recent months at Goodison Park was replaced by a stroll in the sunshine.
Howard, making the 414th and final appearance of his decade at Goodison Park, received a standing ovation before the game and was never seriously tested.
The American, who is returning home to join the Colorado Rapids, wrote an emotional farewell letter to fans, saying: “I love all of you, and am so grateful for what the club and everybody affiliated with it has given me.”
Unsworth and Royle, who were player and manager when Everton won the FA Cup in 1995, coach the under-21s so it was no surprise that the Everton team had a youthful look about it.
Midfielders Tom Davies, 17, and Kieran Dowell, 18, both made their first starts while Jonjoe Kenny, 19, was given his debut off the bench.
It has been a bad run for both Everton, with one win in their previous 10 games, and leading scorer Romelu Lukaku, who was without a goal in nine.
His lack of confidence was clear as he was played in by Gareth Barry in the 12th minute but shot weakly at John Ruddy, who then pulled off another save to keep out a better effort by the Belgian.
McCarthy, in contrast, is not a man known for his goals but he showed the touch of a striker to put Everton ahead.
Dowell looked like he had dallied on the ball too long but it ran for McCarthy, who did not break stride in finding the corner from 20 yards.
Lukaku found his touch to play through Mirallas, whose shot into the side-netting deceived half of Goodison Park.
But there was no need for the celebrations to be cut short in the 44th minute when Baines calmly netted the second from the penalty spot.
The full-back played a part in the build-up, with his cross set to pick out the head of Lukaku before he went down under a challenge from Robbie Brady.
There did not appear to be too much contact but referee Lee Mason pointed to the spot.
Norwich’s only real chance of the first half came when Matt Jarvis shot well over the bar, and it was not until the 65th minute that the winger forced Howard into his first and only meaningful save.
By then Everton were three up, with Dowell, the impressive Davies and Kenny all involved as the latter crossed for Mirallas to tap in.