Three goals in six second half minutes sank United and kept in-form Spurs hot on the heels of leaders Leicester.
Kick-off was delayed by half an hour as the visitors' team coach got stuck in traffic en route to White Hart Lane, but, once the match did get underway, United started brightly.
Jesse Lingard lashed narrowly off target and Tim Fosu-Mensah- whom impressed throughout- fired wide after bursting forward from right-back.
Title-chasing Tottenham needed the win to keep pace with Leicester following the Foxes 2-0 win at Sunderland earlier on Sunday, and Mauricio Pochettino's side soon began to exert their authority on the game.
Harry Kane forced a superb point-blank save from David De Gea and Christian Eriksen curled wide from distance before Erik Lamela spurned an excellent chance with a header on the half-hour.
Spurs started strongly after the restart and and De Gea was quickly forced into action to keep out first Eriksen and then Eric Dier in quick succession.
Kane forced another save from the increasingly busy Spaniard as Spurs probed for the opener and began to show why they're such a potent force this season.
Anthony Martial went closest for the visitors with a rare moment of quality on the hour when he cut inside, beat three Spurs defenders and forced a smart save from international compatriot Hugo Lloris.
Just as United began to eye a narrow win in the match's final third, Spurs ruthlessly routed the Reds with three quickfire goals on 70, 74 and 76 minutes.
The Premier League's hottest new property Dele Alli started the spree with a cool finish past De Gea from an Eriksen cross before Toby Alderweireld headed home the second from a Lamela set-piece.
That had ended the game as a contest and-with United reeling- Spurs rubbed further salt in the wounds when Danny Rose picked out Lamela to drill home past the helpless De Gea from close range.
The result left United four points adrift of fourth place (immaterial anyway) and facing another difficult trip to London against West Ham in Wednesday's FA Cup quarter-final replay.
Overall team performance: 6/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Chris Smalling. Kept Kane quiet throughout.
Would have given this to Fosu-Mensah but he came off after 68 minutes.